The arts are not frills to cut

With state revenues plummeting in the wake of the pandemic, school districts are forced to trim their spending.  If the past is any guide, the first to go will be music, dance and other performing arts (“NYC kids need the arts desperately: Wynton Marsalis says the city must not cut music, dance and visual art education,” New York Daily News, June 30).  That’s because they are seen as non-essential.

I understand the importance of the 3 R’s, but I submit that the arts can make the difference between students dropping out or graduating.  I say that based on my experience teaching English for 28 years in the Los Angeles Unified School District.  I vividly remember students carrying their art portfolios and musical instruments to class and proudly showing off their achievements to others.

The theory of multiple intelligences makes it clear that the arts in all their forms are no less cognitively demanding than other academic subjects.  Yet we persist in treating them as frills.  It’s a big mistake.

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