Suzanne, read Savage Inequalities: Children in America's Schools by Jonathan Kozol for a good insight on the inherent unfairness of America's tax structure for financing education.
Teaching art in the schools is important, if for no other reason then to open up minds to alternative ways to problem solve and create. Research shows that there are distinct differences in how different people problem solve. Art is basically a study of how to solve problems visually and think abstractly.
Many children have the opportunity to continue informal art education at home with the encouragement of parents through music and crafts and visual arts. Middle class parents can afford the piano lessons, dance classes and endless trips to the art supply store. The real importance of art in school is to expose kids who do not have financial means to do these things on their own.
The problem with most school districts is an over abundance of administrators and support staff that soaks up a huge amount of the operating budget.
20 years ago the administration for Omaha public schools occupied a modest sized structure (a very large old victorian house) and some ancillary office buildings. Then the school board decided to spend millions refurbing an old high school (one of the biggest in the district) to use for its headquarters. According to early 20th century socioligist Max Weber, one of the laws of beauracracies is that they will spend money to fill any space provided for it regardless of the need. We went from a few dozen folks running the whole district to several hundred in a few years. The number of students has increased about 20% in that time. In the years since the move to the high school, test scores declined over the years, only recently getting back to levels from the early 80s.
Another example is the school my children attend. An Omaha Catholic school, (grades K-8) it has about 670 students. The school was founded in 1955 and had about 2/3rds the space it does now and taught close to 1200 students. At one time it was the largest Catholic grade school in the US. If you do a little research on those kids from the late 50s and early 60s who went through that school, you find little or no difference in the percentage that went on to high school and college after attending one of the better grade schools in the area, public or private. Why could they do so well with so much less?
We use way to much technology in the classroom, almost to the point it becomes a crutch for teachers, masking the incompetence of some. We don't hold parents accountable for their children's learning, and think that if we just throw more money at the schools it will solve the problems.
I have no problem with spending money on education. Just get rid of half the cushy admin jobs and pay good teachers a good salary. And get rid of the incompetent ones.
Last edited by Jim Chinn; 09-03-2007 at 02:17 PM. Click to view previous post history.
"Fundamentally I think we need to rediscover a non-ironic world"
How do you suppose cameras, lenses, films, developers, papers etc. are designed? Unless you live in a cave, every part of your modern life is dependent on mathematics, including the ability to post your thoughts on here.
Originally Posted by SuzanneR
Yup... I don't disagree. Though, very admittedly, I've let others do the math for me!
Originally Posted by markbb
Well rounded education includes math, arts, and a number of other subjects. So why are the arts less valuable than math when the inevitable cuts come. Why not cut everywhere instead of just targeting the arts?
Of course, the real problem are the cuts... finding creative funding solutions is the crux of the matter. Even if we can come up with creative and fair funding, I'd still like to see smaller administration staff in our local school.
The original basis for publicly funded education was to prepare the American work force to participate in the jobs that were created during the industrial revolution. Being able to read, write and compute served industry, and only secondarily served to survey the culture which arguably had a role to play in industry as well (advertising depends on creative, skilled writers, artists and musicians for example). Currently, technology pervades the public schools to a greater or lesser degree depending on their ability to fund the machines (generously underwritten by technology companies which serves their own agenda down the road.) and software. That is a clear reflection of its utility in business and industry, and continues the tradition of serving the American economy. As a teacher, though, I feel assailed from year to year as new software is introduced that I am expected to learn and use in my teaching even though the last generation of software still does the job it did in the first place. Granted, that's overstating it a bit, but not as much as you might think. Still, teachers are charged with imparting a fundamental core of knowledge and skills for which software is a useful assistant, but by no means an end all.
Happily, the district in which I teach, and the one in which I live strongly support the arts and have never even proposed a cut let alone made one, but it's not something one can take for granted. An article such as Suzanne linked to is still vital evidence of the value of art (and arts) education and needs to be seen by as many board members, administrators and taxpayers as possible. Thanks, Suzanne for the reference!
Last edited by jovo; 09-03-2007 at 11:48 AM. Click to view previous post history.
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Great article. I sent it to many art teachers I know and friends.
Biggest problem I see today is that we don't teach kids how to think....on their own...
John Phillip Sousa
"reading, writing and 'rithmatic,
learned to the tune of the hickory stick"
Core subjects. Gratification of the immediacy of a national test score...critical thinking be damned... When administrators cut budgets, these are the subjects essential to Basic Ed. Protecting these can justify cutting all others.....Unless there is a huge public outcry, and that has historically been the salvation of many school music and arts programs...
It is impossible to explain or justify to the ignorant the importance of an understanding and knowledge of a Vivaldi, Chopin, Ravel, Picasso, King Oliver, Titian, Christopher Wren, E. Satie, John Phillip Sousa, or Frans Hals, etc. They won t get it, unless, they played tuba in Jr. High or were one of the blessed ones fortunate enough to come through a school program with a good offering of music and fine arts.
This would not be such an epidemic it there were more sousaphone players in the administrative pool. Save American education...get your kid a horn, viola or cello, enroll them in the Jr. Ballet and let them color and paint on their bedroom walls.
Last edited by Dave Wooten; 09-03-2007 at 02:52 PM. Click to view previous post history.
[QUOTE=SuzanneR;515429]Oddly enough, our housing market has dropped of late, but for some reason... our property taxes have not fallen as well. Go figure.
Yes - well that's because the town needs to get around to re-appraising the properties - which they probably won't do - when was the last time you saw a government reduce it's income.
In our province, every property is appraised at least every two years, and in most cases annually. There is a central system incorporated into the property title registration system. Appraised values are calculated (based almost entirely on market information - almost no properties are physically inspected), city/municipal budgets are determined, and the requisite mill rates are calculated.
Originally Posted by SuzanneR
There is also a province wide system that allows senior citizens to defer their taxes, but as this is in essence borrowing money from the province against the property (albeit with interest rates that are favourable) many seniors are unwilling to do so.
There are means available for dealing with this problem, but it requires political will, and community effort.
The equivalent property tax in the UK is known as the Council tax, and it isbased on a notional value of one's home. Apart from new houses, I doubt if any have been re-appraised in the past decade! However, there is assistance for those on a low income (regardless of age) and further reductions for single occupancy.
Despite this, in real terms the tax has outstripped rises in pensions and has caused a certain amount of furore. Personally, I don't understand the mentality of someone living in a £500,000 house complaining that they can't a afford a £1000 bill, why don't the elderly realise the capital in their house and downgrade?