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From the Chairman
I would like to suggest that all ISC members and Sculpture readers have a responsibility to push for, and to help provide, ongoing arts education in our public school system.
Whether you are a practicing artist or a lover and supporter of the arts, there is a good chance that your career choice or your appreciation of the arts was influenced, at least in part, by the arts education you enjoyed as a child in the public school system. As you probably know, statistics convincingly suggest that you are also a smarter and more well-rounded individual as a result of that early exposure to the arts.
According to published data, students who receive arts education earn better grades, do better on exams, perform more community service, and watch fewer hours of television than those who do not. Students who receive four years of high school arts education score 100 points better on their SATs than those who do not. Arts education also greatly reduces school dropout rates.
It is similarly well established that an arts education greatly assists at-risk kids by improving communications skills, increasing the ability to work on tasks from start to finish, decreasing delinquent behavior, improving attitudes toward school, increasing self-esteem, and reducing court referrals and new offenses.
Pick up any American newspaper, and you’ll be reminded again and again that today’s children—tomorrow’s working artists and arts patrons—are receiving less and less arts education in our public schools. By definition, that also means that all of the established benefits of public school arts education are being denied to an increasing number of today’s children.
The budget cuts behind the reduction in arts education and programming represent a quick and simple response to overall deficits and the necessity for corresponding spending cuts. They may also result from a misapplication of the priorities established by the No Child Left Behind law, which emphasizes performance measurement through math and reading scores—although that law does recognize the importance of an arts education on these very same measurables.
Notwithstanding this apparent trend, the news is not all bad. Federal and state funding for public school arts programming has generally regained the ground lost after 9/11. In addition, new initiatives are underway around the country, and studies show that a staggering 90 percent of Americans consider the arts vital to a well-rounded education for all students and are opposed to arts-education cutbacks.
While these budgetary battles will likely rage on, and funding for public school arts education will continue to ebb and flow, we, as art professionals and supporters of the arts, can have a direct and personal impact on this important topic. I urge you all to get involved with your local school system and your local art centers and museums to learn how these institutions are helping ensure that tomorrow’s artists and arts patrons—who, by the way, are our children—are receiving the arts education that they so richly deserve, and so desperately need.
Chairman, ISC Board of Directors
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