Art and music spark the imagination and present an opportunity to reveal a better or a different way to live. Art crosses all socioeconomic boundaries. It awakens the awareness of the advantaged to the plight of others. It ignites creativity.
Years ago, art and music education were part of the public school curriculum beginning with primary school. A poster of various paintings graced the blackboard to be replaced by new selections each week. I can still recall one of the first pieces of art I was exposed to; The Blue Boy, by Thomas Gainsborough.
The March of the Toreadors from Carmen, by Bizet, blasted from a phonograph. We were expected to be able to identify the various arias on a weekly test.
There were no museums in our small town. There were no performance halls. Art and music appreciation provided an opportunity for an experience we would not have had otherwise.
Today school is often the only place some children have to learn about the arts. Budget cuts and high-stakes testing have pushed these programs into non-existence. For these children, without a basic exposure to art, drama and music, reality television sets the standard for the arts.
Our politicians blather on about “taking back our country” and “making America great again.” One way they might begin to do that is to leave education and textbook material decisions to educators and support art education in public schools.
One political hopeful trotted out Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the A&E series Duck Dynasty to support his position with voters.
Duck Dynasty?? Really??
Few of us would consider reality television qualifies as an art form, but without exposure to the arts in public school, Duck Dynasty could become the new normal.
If candidates are serious about “making America great again” supporting art education in public schools is a good way to begin.