Art Education and Our Future

Article excerpt

There is a movement afoot to bring back arts education to Oklahoma schools.

The program is called ArtsPower and is backed by the Oklahoma Business Circle for Arts Education. The program should get the enthusiastic backing of the entire business community, the PTA, the OEA, even the SPCA.

The reason for the arts education emphasis is that arts education has apparently disappeared from Oklahoma schools, according to the business circle and leaders in the arts community.

If that is the case, and I trust it is, then we all need to support this effort.

Instruction in and appreciation for the fine arts should be as fundamental as math, language arts and physical education. The problem is it's too easy to eliminate.

This column will now degenerate into one of those when I was a kid stories.

When I was in the third grade in Vidor, Texas, we had a music teacher. She was pretty. I had a crush on her. But, she also taught us to sing and enjoy music.

One of the accomplishments from that year was a music program where we sang songs from the musical Oklahoma! I still remember all the words to Oklahoma! and most of the words to The Surrey with the Fringe on Top.

I didn't sing all that well as a third-grader, but I was enthusiastic. I still don't sing well, but I haven't lost my enthusiasm for singing, dancing, painting and sculpting.

I think it's a shame when our children aren't given the opportunities we had at their age.

We now have school districts in our state that have abandoned or seriously neglected instruction in fine arts. I've heard tales of one art teacher serving up to three campuses in some districts and others that have abandoned the effort completely.

That teacher can't be spending much time with our children as individuals and the children are missing an essential element in their education.

I think I've heard that studying fine arts enforces creativity and expression. Creative people who know how to express their feelings and thoughts make better employees. Better employees help to make our economy strong and help us to compete for new business.

But beyond all that, it's just not right that we are willing to shortchange these students and their future.

In another state, in another community, I helped with a campaign to raise revenues for the city school system.

Our school board and city council had recommended a very small increase in the local sales tax that would benefit the school system. …