Metropolis, IL

Opinion

Editorial: Arts are important in the schools

Wednesday, October 12, 2016 - Updated: 10:19 AM
Not all children are athletic, and not all children are musical and artistic. Children who participate in either of these activities, though, are well-disciplined and well-performing students.
The enactment of the No Child Left Behind Act in 2008 had its positives and negatives. A huge negative was the decrease of emphasization on fine art classes. School districts and test scores across the U.S. were suddently being scrutinized more for language arts, math and science classes. More dollars and time were pumped into those areas, and the fine arts field saw a loss of funding and priority.
Facts are though, according to an arts education article on edutopia.org, arts education is crucial to students’ advancement. “Years of research show that it’s closely linked to almost everything we as a nation say we want for our children and demand from our schools: academic achievement, social and emotional development, civic engagement and equitable opportunity.”
Arts education in schools is more than visual arts, such as painting and sculpting. There is also performing arts, musical arts and language arts. More popular in school curriculums in the southern Illinois area are visual art and music classes. Graduation requirements from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) only requires one art class to graduate though. And that requirement is in the form of an elective which can be taken in any of the three classes: art, music, foreign language, which shall include American Sign Language; and vocational education.
Take a moment and think about this — arts learning can also improve motivation, concentration, confidence and teamwork. Students are motivated to do their best because they know people are watching, exercise extreme concentration and attention to details, have a boosted confidence when their work is on display and learn to work together as a team.
The reinvention of the arts programs in schools still have a way to go but are making improvements. Arts are now considered a core subject and are included on almost every state’s required curriculum.
Currently, Massac County High School (MCHS) offers art, band and choir as well as Spanish and German classes. According to Leslie Goines, a guidance counselor at MCHS, students are encouraged to take at least one or two years of visual or performing arts to meet college admission requirements. Every college is different so students should check with their prospective colleges regarding their admission guidelines.
Joppa High School (JHS) currently offers Art 1, 2, 3 and 4 and Spanish, and will offer choir at the high school level in the spring. We are exceptionally pleased to see the addition of the choir class to the J-MG curriculum and are excited to see what the future holds for the JHS choir and its members.
In a 2010 study, in the state right next door to us, the Missouri Alliance for Arts Education concluded fine arts education is significantly related to higher standardized test scores, higher attendance and graduation rates, and lower disciplinary rates for serious student infractions. Those findings were according to an analysis of “core” data submitted to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education by the state’s public school districts.
Knowing the importance of fine arts to our students advancement, it’s time that we build the arts programs back up. Encourage your children to take more than the mandated arts courses. 

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