Friday, March 18, 2011

Save the Arts in Duval County

The Arts are in danger in Duval County. Our school board has threatened to cut out all art and music from elementary schools. I wrote a letter to the editor of our local paper, the Florida Times Union and it was published today. I hope it will make an impact.

Save the Arts!

So now parents are coming out of the woodwork in support for sports in Duval County Schools. Where is the outcry from business leaders and parents of students who benefit from the arts? After all, arts classes are responsible for encouraging the development of visual-spatial abilities, reflection, and experimentation. What would Leonardo da Vinci say? He was planning cities and inventing flying machines between painting such great works as the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper. Arts education teaches and nurtures creativity, judgment, and discipline. It’s in art classes that we are preparing students for future success in a global economy.

Florida Senators Stephen Wise and Nancy C. Detert, cited data proving that the more arts classes taken, the higher student achievement on SAT and FCAT, and the less likely a student is to drop out of school.

As a result of this study, United States Commissioner of Education, Arne Duncan, then went on to write to America’s school and educational leaders stating:

“At this time when you are making critical and far-reaching budget and program decisions for the upcoming school year, I write to bring to your attention the importance of the arts as a core academic subject and part of a complete education for all students. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) defines the arts as a core subject, and the arts play a significant role in children’s development and learning process.”

Commissioner Duncan wrote in his August 2009 letter to school and community leaders: “The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) defines art as a core subject, and the arts play a significant role in learning development and learning processes.”

I see everyday how my students who are struggling academically have benefited from arts education. I truly believe that my own childhood learning difficulties have guided me in my teaching. Realizing that I was proficient in art gave me the confidence to excel in math and reading. This was a defining moment in my education as the arts made a difference in the path my life would take - just as it does everyday for my students.

Terry Woodlief, Art Teacher, Chaffee Trail elementary

President, Duval Art Teachers Association