Coreen McClellan: Focus on fundamentals

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To the editor:

I found it ironic that you published an article praising the Moffat County High School musical in Saturday’s paper right next to an article where Mr. Allen suggested the arts programs in our schools be cut in order to meet next year’s budget cuts.

I would guess the combined wages of the 10 or 12 arts-related teachers, along with all the money spent on their various programs, wouldn’t total the $1 million that needs to be cut, so eliminating the arts programs won’t balance next year’s budget.

I agree we need to focus on the fundamentals, namely language and mathematics.

What Mr. Allen may not realize is that a clear correlation between arts and these fundamental skills has been documented repeatedly (for starters, see “Learning Improved by Arts Training,” by Gardiner, Fox, Knowles, and Jeffrey, Nature, May 23, 1996).

In addition, research has shown a correlation between music education and IQ scores. Several studies have shown arts programs to be even more effective than computer instruction in developing abstract reasoning skills in students (see Shaw, Rauscher, Levine, Wright, Dennis and Newcomb, “Music training causes long-term enhancement of preschool children’s spatial-temporal reasoning,” Neurological Research, vol. 19, February 1997).

Studies have also shown students in arts programs are less likely to be substance abusers. A Texas study specifically tied high school participation in band, choir, or orchestra to the lowest lifetime use of all addictive substances (Texas School Survey of Substance Abuse Among Students: Grades 7-12, 1994).

In light of all this information, it seems if we want intelligent, well-educated, drug-free children we need to promote the arts, not cut them.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to keep the arts programs and slash the budgets for extracurricular activities, non-essential transportation, and behavior-modification programs that don’t focus on fundamental educational skills?

Coreen McClellan

Comments

calvinhobbs 5 years ago

I agree arts are important, schools need to teach to the whole child,and the district will need to make cuts. The state pushes standards, math, reading and science with CSAP. Some programs the district has are state mandated, yet no state funds.Transportation is a big cost, wear and tear on the buses, fuel, insurance, and salary. Extra curricular is already slashed to the max. They are almost completely self funded by gate fees (mainly football and basketball games, supporting all), fund raisers, and the $55.00 each athlete pays to play per sport. The district pays salaries of coaches and other small purchases. Athletes also pay for their meals, and rooms when they travel. I believe the district needs to look at what other districts are doing to cut costs, Some schools have a 4 day student week, teacher have meetings on Friday. Away games are only scheduled on Friday,students do not travel away to contests and miss school on Monday-Thursday, this reduces student time missed, AND sub teachers for coaches.The heat is turned down buses do not travel, lights are off. Others have cut busing, closed schools, cut administration,but no matter how you look at it. Kids lose. Personal, teachers, support staff, programs will get cut or be scaled back.

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eieiolrighty 5 years ago

I think a four day school week is an excellent idea...Baggs and Hayden do this. I believe they add a little extra time to the four days that they go. We could look to them to see how this works. A lot of children are already gone on Fridays with extra curricular activities. Hardly any work is done at the high school on Fridays. I feel that it is a wasted day there already. I agree with calvinhobbs that sports are self funded already...not much to cut there. Hopefully our district will take a look at this as one of their options.

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