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Here We Go Again: “Unessential” Arts are on the Chopping Block

August 24, 2020


It’s sad but inevitable news: as budgets begin to tighten and districts continue to use standardized tests as the primary metric for determining “essential instruction”, the arts are in peril. Using Winchendon MA as the example, this USA Today article describes how the HS art program in their school district provides a safe haven for disaffected students. But as the article underscores, the arts offer students of all social backgrounds with a different perspective… AND as the President of AASA notes, districts across the country will be facing pressure to cut them:

As pressure builds on school districts for more cuts, experts fear the move to single out specials programs portends a nationwide trend that may disrupt the “whole child” approach to education, adversely affect academic growth and disproportionately impact low-income families. 

School districts struggling to navigate shrinking budgets may ask core subject teachers to incorporate art, music and physical education into their lesson plans to save on salaries, said Kristi Wilson, president of the American Association of School Administrators — an idea she opposes. 

“We have a real opportunity to return back to what is good about education and the whole child,” Wilson said. “But we’re not going to do that if we push to cut the arts — and I fear that’s coming.” 

The worst news in Ms. Wilson’s message is that only the wealthy districts will be able to provide the arts and therefore teach the whole child. Districts serving students raised in poverty will only educate the “standardized” child.

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