An issue that interests and is important to me is arts education, and I hope to journal about this issue on this blog site and www.danearts.org over the coming school year. Also, I hope to be able to play a different role in supporting arts education as a community member on the Partnership Commmittee.
For the past six years there have been various cuts in fine arts education for Madison’s students. If the current budget constraints continue, there will be continued cuts in Madison’s public schools, which will lead to continued cuts in many areas that contribute to an excellent education for all Madison’s children.
For example, in the arts for the upcoming school year, children will begin elementary classes with half the instrumental instruction. Students in middle school will have to juggle multiple classes in order to study an instrument. Fewer high school classes in the arts are being offered even though demand is there for these classes. These are the cuts in one academic area. Children will also be facing larger class sizes, reduction of services due to budget cuts. Where we can, we need to try to think and to act differently.
An important next step in addressing some of the arts education issues and the future of arts education in the Madison public schools might be the formation of a community arts education advisory committee composed of representatives from the community (including district educational and administrative staff) who are knowledgable about and interested in developing a community strategy and action plan for arts education in the Madison public schools.
There are those who say the budget is mismanaged and that there is adequate money to provide an excellent education for all our children. There are other’s who say we are about to go over an education cliff into an abyss due to revenue caps. What I know is that arts education is being cut and I’d like those interest community members to have an opportunity to think and to plan about what we might do for our kids in this academic area. This type of approach is feasible is likely to be more feasible in the arts area than some other areas.
The recently completed community afterschool task force is an example of a successful community committee working together on a challenging problem – best mix of afterschool offerings for Madison’s children using existing resources and working together across several businesses. This committee did an incredible amount of work and provided the School Board via the Partnership Committee with important information and recommendations on a number of issues.
This community committee began last year under the supervision of the Partnership Committee, which Johnny Winston Jr. chaired at the time. Numerous cities and school districts around the country have formed successful committees on arts education. Now might be the time for Madison to catch up before our children lose much more in this academic area.