How Important are the
Arts in Our Schools?

You are reading a page posted by Marvin Bartel, Ed.D., Professor of Art, Goshen College, Goshen, Indiana, on April 15, 1999 and last updated January 3, 2004.

"Music and Art instruction will be cut from the
Elementary Schools."
The above is a quote from The Goshen News (Goshen Indiana) April 13, 1999, page 1 and 2, in an article, "School Budget Cut" reported by Matt Kreider, Goshen News Education Writer. Please keep reading, for the real story.
    A big mistake
    I know that the newspaper often has errors, so I immediately called a school board member and school officials to see if this was a mistake. In truth, they are proposing to cut one half of one art teaching position and one half of one music teaching position in the elementary system of the Goshen Community Schools. Put in context, this is certainly alarming, but not as serious as it first appeared.  In the same newspaper, one day later, April 14, 1999, it says, "Indiana's budget surplus is growing and should top $2.8 billion by July 2001 . . ." page 1.

    We are dumbing down our schools in an era when unemployment has never been lower. Our economy is stronger than ever. Our school administrators, school boards, and tax payers are telling our children to tighten their educational belts and minds. We are spending our future capital, our children's education, for the greedy sake of keeping our taxes lower.

    Fortunately, most of the elementary schools in our area do now have art teachers. The important exception is that the Elkhart Public Schools still depend on elementary generalist teachers to teach all the art in their classrooms.

    Just a few years ago another near by School Corporation did not have art teachers for their elementary children. Parents who had moved from other parts of the country petitioned the administration and they have now added art teachers. Originally, in 1994, when I read about this concern in the newspaper, it was reported  that the school administrators of one of our wealthiest districts was arguing that their budget could not afford instruction in the arts. Simultaneously, we were seeing huge expenditures for other priorities.

    Click here to see a copy of the letter written on behalf of the children of this area school corporation. I never got an acknowledgement or an answer, so I can't publish the school corporation's response. However, because these parents were concerned, they did add art teachers for their elementary children for several years. At this writing in 2004, the art in elementary is no longer taught by art specialists. I share this letter here in the interest of enlightenment.  In no way do I wish to be critical of administrators who are for the most part doing the best they can for our children. In some cases they simply don't realize the implications of their actions.

The materials in this web site were first posted by © Marvin Bartel in 1999. You are invited to make a link to your page. You may use properly acknowledged quotations in scholarly reveiw or publication.  If you wish to publish parts or all of this page, you are invited seek permission by e-mail.
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