EDITORIAL: WHY ARTS EDUCATION|
IS KEY IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS
My letter to Dr. Todd Stoltz
superintendent of the
West Shore School District
Cumberland and York Counties PA
Final draft, November 9th, 2014 12:57PM-EST
Dear Dr. Stoltz,
As a resident of the West Shore School District, I am
writing to you to voice my support for comprehensive arts education
in our public schools.
The arts are vital to our lives and our nation
and the reasons why are seemingly endless. Visual arts, music,
theater, dance, creative writing, handicrafts, and other forms of
creative expression enrich our lives. The arts also enlighten us as
people and add vibrance and dynamics to our society. To understand
and appreciate the arts is to understand and appreciate our culture.
Poetry, painting, music and other art forms are important because
they are a reflection of the lives we lead.
For example: Knowing the arts are key to understanding our
country's history and what makes America "America". This is especially true
of creative writing and music which tell stories that get passed from one
generation to the next. A prime example of this is "The Star Spangled Banner"
by Francis Scott Key. Not only is it our national anthem, it is also a living
document and testimonial about a pivotal piece of American history and the
resolve of the American people.
Investment in arts education benefits far more
people than just visual art and music students. Studies have proven that
professional fields of all types are enhanced from a well rounded education.
The arts excel in teaching innovation, context, and excellence and strengthens
a person's ability to think critically and "outside the box." Learning to
draw helps in the development of fine eye-hand coordination and learning to
play a musical instrument at a young age aids the development of a child's
cognitive function. Other research reveals a strong link between music and visual
arts education and higher achievement, both academically and in adulthood.
The arts also teach how collaboration and independent thought work together
and how to create original ideas that fit within existing frameworks, abilities
that are vital in today's technological world.
Investment in the arts generates billions of dollars in
economic activity which translates directly into jobs and influence, both
at home and around the globe. America's top export is not technology,
automotive, agriculture or weapons. It's music, book publishing,
cinematography and fine arts. What America creates has a global market
and the arts are a key component in the USA's status as the dominant
As Americans, we should realize this better than anyone.
It is America that created the concepts of free markets and mass distribution,
which empowers creators and entrepreneurs by rewarding them. It is America
that created the worldwide distribution framework that delivers
information and entertainment to a global audience. We created the
Walt Disneys and the Warner Brothers of the world, the tastemakers of
art as entertainment. The film and TV studios of Hollywood are billion
dollar enterprises selling fantasy and adventure to an eager audience.
Visual artists such as Norman Rockwell and Andrew Wyeth are known throughout
the world; their works serving as a window into American life.
And it was America who created the modern record company and the
soundtrack of our lives. And these businesses need an educated workforce.
Despite all the evidence of the benefits that
comprehensive arts education provides our youngsters and society,
there are a sub-set of people on the political right who fail to
understand the need for the arts as part of our public school curricula.
Some conservatives are outright hostile to the arts both in school
and the community at large, and as America looses it's competitive
edge and it's status as the dominant world superpower, I find their
opposition quite disturbing. The role of the arts in society is of no
less consequence than the roles of industry, science, health care,
Now think about what our lives would be like without our
great American musicians, poets, visual artists and architects. How about
our writers, photographers, filmmakers, and actors? Our country would lose
its edge in a multitude of ways.
Visual arts, music, cinema, radio/TV,
book publishing and other art forms create jobs and fills our tax
coffers while promoting international good will and enriches our
cultural identity and understanding. It's time that those with an axe
to grind stop using public school arts programs as political chess
pieces. By refusing to invest in arts education, we are in danger of
creating a culturally stagnent society, robbing our communities of
what makes them vibrant and unique, and creating disincentives
towards investing in both our young people and our businesses here at
home. And history will judge us harshly for it.
These are just some of many reasons why I encourage you
to support music and art education in our public schools.
Best regards - Peter P. Carli II (Goldsboro/Etters PA)
© 2014 - Peter P. Carli II
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