The Farmington Public Schools are considering a budget that would reduce elective time in music and art for elementary students. We believe this would be a mistake and urge the Board of Education to consider the 5 reasons below to reject these cuts when finalizing the budget.
1. Music and the arts play a significant role in our understanding of what it means to be human, how to express our unique value, and how to relate and empathize with others: “Learning to create and appreciate visual aesthetics may be more important than ever to the development of the next generation of children as they grow up.”
2. Various studies have demonstrated that arts education for young children improves their vocabulary, communication skills, and memory, and may lead to greater success in math and science.
According to Robert Root-Bernstein, professor of Physiology and MacArthur Prize Fellow at Michigan State University: “Studies show that neither mathematical nor verbal reasoning tests are useful indicators for future careers in science and technology, but high visual imaging ability is. One study found that high aptitude in arts and music are much more predictive of career success in any field than the results of grades, IQ, achievement or any other standardized measures. The arts, despite a reputation for being subjective, emotional and non-intellectual, make science and invention possible.”
3. In 1998 a group of ten leading educational organizations in the U.S., including the American Association of School Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association, National Parent Teacher Association and the National School Boards Association, adopted a Statement of Principles regarding “The Value and Quality of Arts Education”. Some of the key principles agreed upon include:
- To ensure a basic education in the arts for all students, the arts should be recognized as serious, core academic subjects.
- Education policy makers should incorporate the multiple lessons of recent research concerning the value and impact of arts education.
- A comprehensive sequential curriculum and qualified arts teachers must be recognized as the basis and core for substantive arts education by all students.
- Arts education programs should be grounded in rigorous instruction, provide meaningful assessment of academic progress and performance, and take their place within a structure of direct accountability to school officials, parents and the community.
- Community resources that provide exposure to the arts … offer valuable support and enhancement to an in-school arts education … however, these kinds of activities cannot substitute for a comprehensive, balanced, sequential arts education taught by qualified teachers.
According to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, “A well-rounded education is simply too vital to our students’ success to let the teaching of the arts and humanities erode.”
4. “The greatest scientists are artists as well,” according to no less an authority on the subject than Albert Einstein, an amateur violinist. Einstein also noted that “I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music” and claimed “the theory of relativity occurred to me by intuition, and music is the driving force behind this intuition.”
5. The arts and creative industry sector is vital to Michigan’s economy and future success (comprising 75,000 workers, nearly 10,000 businesses, and generating $3.6 billion statewide in total wages) and we need to support the education and development of our future artists, writers, architects, musicians, dancers, and designers, from an early age.
For all these reasons and more we hope the FPS Board of Education will reject the proposed reduction in arts education and support the creative development of our young students.