The arts programs in America’s public schools are routinely one of the first things cut to save money and resources. Whether it is music, pottery or theater, there are significant advantages to having those programs offered in public schools. A child taking these classes doesn’t have to be the next Mozart or Kenneth Branagh to have a positive role in a developing student’s life.
The facilities are available for these programs to take place. Even if a school district is struggling for resources, a theater program can take place in the cafeteria or auditorium if necessary. Instrument donations can supply the music department with enough resources to get started. Fundraisers like a carwash, concert or candy sales can supply money for supplies, books and even costumes for the yearly theater production.
Art programs are vital to producing well-rounded children. Kids need a break from the usual math or English class in school. They sit and listen for a majority of the day anyway. A music or art class gives them something tangible to get their hands on and create something – whether it’s a Bb major scale or a scene from Romeo and Juliet. They are creating instead of doing a math problem like everyone else sitting in that seat has done it. Having these options available to students gives many an opportunity they wouldn’t otherwise have. A school-supplied clarinet might just inspire a child to play in marching band in college, or even become a band director. If that same student arrived at the middle school in the area that recently cut the music program they would never have that opportunity to try something new. Giving children an outlet for their creativity is a requirement. Some kids go home and help with their brothers and sisters or barely get enough to eat. They need an outlet at school, which a traditional class is unlikely to give them. There are countless kids that look forward to school because of music or art class. That method of creation allows them to express themselves and feel unique and appreciated.
Public schools are under-funded and under-appreciated in general, so that is part of the problem. There are also superintendents out there who don’t understand the benefits to art programs in their schools. That is a shame. An extra 2% on their mandated state tests are more important than funding departments that give students a more well-rounded and enjoyable education. Until a student has a major in college, they need to have the opportunity to experience a wide variety of subjects and possible educational directions in their journey through school. Eliminating music and other art departments takes away a student’s choices in their education.