When my children were in elementary school, there was no dedicated art teacher and no art room in the school. Parent volunteer art docents and PTA-funded artist-in-residence and music programs provided all of the arts education for the school. These programs provided a variety of arts experiences, with students painting, Taiko drumming, and making wicker and tissue paper parade puppets, but it is inequitable to depend on parent funding and volunteers for arts education. In order to serve the students furthest from educational justice, we must have dedicated funding and staffing for arts education in every school.
When schools are over capacity or want to improve scores in reading, writing, and math, arts education is the first to be cut. This is wrong. Every school should have art and music classrooms and every student should have access to arts instruction. This is particularly important and needed in elementary schools in Seattle. Arts education helps students develop the whole person and gives students freedom to create. Individual creativity is a vital skill to develop in today’s job market. Cutting arts is also counterproductive, since arts and music education is shown to improve learning and performance in other subjects.
Seattle Public Schools can strengthen its arts education program and the broader Seattle arts community by partnering with artists and community based organizations such as Creative Advantage to bring local artists to every Seattle school. I support this move to help build ties to the community and provide additional culturally relevant instruction for every student.