Story by: ALEXA HCKLIN / Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush
Coming from a high school that integrated art in every core subject, I find myself questioning how some institutions across the nation can simply cut the arts from their students. The economy can be tough at times but I don’t believe anyone should have to choose between having math and reading support or having access to the arts.
To me, those are all the basics of an education. First Lady Michelle Obama said herself that the “arts are not just a nice thing to have…Rather, paintings and poetry, music and fashion, design and dialogue, they all define who we are as a people and provide an account of history for the next generation.”
Art is sometimes looked at as something that takes up money and distracts the student from the more important subjects like math, reading and science. Math and science were my worst subjects throughout my whole academic career. I had a hard time passing tests and was considered to be an “at-risk” student.
But once I moved onto high school I noticed how my teachers integrated art in class. And I found myself becoming much more engaged in the lessons. I was actually learning and applying my knowledge outside of the classroom. With this big improvement, came higher test scores and better critical and creative thinking skills.
In a recent news headline it said that the Upper Darby School Board made plans to cut art and music along with gym, the library and technology programs from elementary and middle schools to save $4 million dollars. Residents from the community and Upper Darby students have already started petitions like “Save Upper Darby Arts” to stop the School Board from making this decision.
When I first heard about this story I had no idea where Upper Darby was and I didn’t know much about their school district. But I did my research and I found out that their performing arts programs are what they are known for. If their art and music programs define the school district, why should they be cut first from the curriculum?
I believe these cuts will not only affect the students but also result in teachers losing their jobs. The Board says money is needed to help fund these programs but I believe if these schools do fundraisers and get donations from the community the arts can stay alive.
My high school was on a very strict budget and we didn’t have a lot money to update our arts supplies but we were very passionate about our craft so we did everything we could to raise money for our art.
All in all, art is a part of our world and shouldn’t be excluded from any educational program. With a rough economy, tough decisions have to be made. But I do not believe anyone should have to choose between math and reading or art.
The arts improve academic achievement and help students with critical and creative thinking and insight into potential careers. If it weren’t for art, I don’t think I would be where I am today.