What art really teaches

My local school district, like so many others, is struggling with difficult budget choices.  As is typical, the arts become an easy target for financial cuts because we do not understand how or why they matter.  The arts somehow seem superfluous.  I wish that were not so.  Here is a letter I composed and shared with school board members; perhaps others might find it helpful too.

Dear Board of Education member:

As you grapple with budget choices and curriculum trade-offs related to the arts, I’d like to share a quote from Larry Rosenstock who leads High Tech High, a San Diego school started by a group of local tech executives frustrated by a lack of skilled workers.  “There is no test for the future that we can teach to.  What we do know, however, is that being able to make new things is still going to be the way to succeed.  Creativity is a skill that never goes out of style.”   As school environments get ever more rigid and test oriented, arts is the area which advances the traits needed for the future—how to cope with complexity and connect ideas, how to develop grit and determination, how to find your voice and say something– whether with music, words, dance or art.  I can think of nothing more essential for the children of our community.  Please preserve the arts as a critical element of education.


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