Arts Are Central to a Strong Education

Article excerpt

Byline: Garry Weber For The Register-Guard

Don't get the wrong idea about Springfield's Arts Matter initiative.

The fact that the arts - performing arts, visual arts and more - are important to our students is a long-held belief. The arts always have been a valuable part of our curriculum. Yet it is no secret to anyone that with time-consuming federal requirements and the reduced funding levels of the past 10 years, all districts have had fewer resources available for "extras" such as the arts.

Despite decreased funding available for arts, one step into any of our schools will show that Springfield has managed to maintain progress in all areas of the arts - even if on a smaller scale.

Teachers are successfully integrating the arts into other curricula, and excellent examples of student projects adorn the walls of every school. The sounds of choirs and bands ring through the halls. Teachers vigorously pursue grants for special arts projects.

Now we have an entire school - Springfield's Academy of Arts and Academics - that provides students for whom the arts are paramount with an opportunity to shine while they complete the requirements for a full, regular high school diploma. We are proud of what we have been able to accomplish.

Our new Arts Matter initiative simply will allow us to do more. The arts can only enhance students' communication, analytical and problem-solving skills, while broadening their understanding, interest and perspective.

We want access to the arts for all students, in all grades, across the district. We need to eliminate fee-based programming so that all students, regardless of economic circumstances, have access to both art coursework and co-curricular arts experiences. …