Art Budget Cuts


     Iíd
like to inform you about the great deal of budget cuts happening everyday in our
public school systems. One of the hardest hit is in our arts and music
departments. The battle over NEA funding and other important foundations that
are set up to benefit our youths are being challenged by the government at an
alarming rate. Cutbacks in our schools budget force students in these
departments to go without necessary supplies that are essential in the learning
process. Iíd also like to show you why art and music education is essential to
our childrenís learning process, how it allows them to grow up to be well
rounded citizens, and why as a country, we need to fight to save these programs.

It seems to be a continuous battle for art and music educations demand for some
respect. Many legislators feel the problem in our schools is that budgets where
not amended to fit the rise of costs in our economy. And because of this there
simply arenít simple ways to fund these programs. Other reasons for problems
in the arts and music departments budget is that even though there is inadequate
funding schools pass programs without promise of long-term support. Thus,
creating a cycle of budget problems. This is our problem. One particular agency,
out of many, the NEA is facing problems that are similar to most in the art and
music debates. "The conservatives are pressing the case that, in the time of
tight federal budgets, taxpayers cannot afford funding for the agency, which
received a $99 million appropriation for fiscal 1997. The critics also argue
that the agency continues to fund pornographic and blasphemous
projects.(Freedman,p.624)" As stated by Allan Freedman of Government and

Commerce magazine, sums up the views some government officials are having
concerning the NEA, an organization set up to benefit those in the art
community. This organization is a powerful factor in terms of art education. The
organization looks at all different types of art forms, such as poetry,
painting, jewelry, ceramics, as well as dealing with the issues of art
education. These feelings by leading government officials are being expressed in
all aspects of funding for the arts and music. The NEA is causing quite a stir
in congress, and also according to Freedman, " ... in 1995, the agencyís
foes not only managed to push through major budget cuts, but secured a pledge
from the house leadership to eliminate the agency...(Freedman,p.624)" But why?

Does our government really not have enough money? Of course it does, thatís
not the problem, the problem is that we have not reached the point where we can
have a perfect budget. Where we can distribute our funds properly. According to
the same article, Rick A. Lazio of New York, one of the chief Republican NEA
defenders in the house, " We spend more on military marching bands then we do
on the endowment.(Freedman,p.624)" There are many polices, budget and funding
issues that need to be looked over, some are out-dated, some miss used, and
others just not effective in our educational system today. Letís face it the"perfect budget" will never happen, the economy is ever-changing and the
same goes for dealing with and handing out the funds. Both state and government
agencies who deal with the budget of our art and music programs need to deal
with what is before them. If there is not enough means of funding, then outside
groups need to make up for that. This is why organization such as the NEA need
to be supported not fought. Not everybody in our government is opposed to
adequately funding our art and music education departments, in fact according to

Arts Education and School Improvement Resources For Local and State Leaders,
"The Congress finds that -- "1) the arts are forms of understanding
and ways of knowing that are fundamentally important to education; "2) the
arts are important to excellent education and to effective school reform;
"3) the most significant contribution of the arts to education reform is
the transformation of teaching and learning; "4) such transformation is
best realized in the context of comprehensive, systemic education reform;
"5) demonstrated competency in the arts for American students is among the

National Education Goals; "6) participation in performing arts activities
has proven to be an effective strategy for promoting the inclusion of persons
with disabilities in mainstream settings; "7) opportunities in the arts
have enabled persons of all ages with disabilities to participate more fully in
school and community activities; "8) the arts can motivate at-risk students
to stay in school and become active participants in the educational process; and
"9) arts education should be an integral part of the elementary and
secondary school curriculum." These feelings are actually abundant in

Washington. In fact our president as well as Al Gore are focusing hard on the
idea of reforming our educational system in order to give these programs the
money they need to be effective. According to The New York Times quoting Bill

Clinton, " Education has been an important dividing line between those who are
able to move ahead and those who lag behind.(Clinton,p.16)" And Bill

Clintonís budget proposals give strength to that. " The education budget
calls for spending $1.75 billion, up $450 million from this fiscal
year.(Clinton,p.16)" His Plan gives a high priority to wiring classrooms for
the internet, hiring more teachers, reducing class size, as well as fixing up
dilapidated schools. Gore of course is following the presidents path of holding
education in top priority. But with all this talk about the budget being brought
up to date, where is the proof. The lack of funding is causing a drought as far
as supplies are concerned. Maybe I should reiterate, lack of resources is a
better way to put it because now we are losing not only our supplies, but our
programs and teachers. The dedicated school teachers we are still fortunate to
have are being forced to spend a great deal of their own money on their students
supplies. According to Art Education magazine, in a study they did on classroom
budgets, " The average yearly budgets run the gamut from nothing to
$9,000...73% of the respondents indicated that they normally spend their own
money on additional art supplies- at an average of $348.32 per year. The range
of out-of-pocket spending among these respondents extended from $25 to $5000
per-year, with 21% of the teachers stated that they spend at least $500 each
school year.(p.7)" The dedication of our teachers is incredible. In many cases
these teachers are putting their students welfare and needs over their own. One
such instance occurred in the San Francisco school system with a special
education teacher by the name of Bill Gallimore. " Gallimore...,makes $31,00.

His students, all disabled children in grades three, four, and five, have so
many basic needs that he already has spent $500 on classroom supplies this
semester. Because the school district only pays teachers just once a month,

Gallimore had to decide between buying the supplies or paying his phone bill.

Pacific Bell turned off his phone.(Asmiov,p.A21)" Is this the kind of thing we
want our educators to have to deal with. All throughout my school career I
remember my teachers having to do the same things. I remember being in high
school ceramics and by January we were without clay, so my teacher had to spend
her own hard earned money on us the rest of the year. You can imagine how nerve
racking it would be to deal with this kind of budget. All normal lesson plans
would have to be thrown out the window in order to stretch your funds to last
the whole year. What possibilities are open to students interested in these
subjects. I would find it hard for a child to get interested in playing an
instrument with no instruments available. Arts and music are important to our
children in many ways. A child doesnít necessarily have to grow up to be a
scientist, doctor, or lawyer. There are an abundant careers available in these
fields such as graphic design, music production, as well as advertising. Many
studies show that the arts and music provide children with an interest in
learning all of their subjects. Not only do these classes provide a break in a
hard day of academics, but they give students a chance to free their minds an
bodies of the stress that comes along with school in general. Also children
become better all around students, being able to deal better with group skills,
independent creative thought, problem solving, risk taking, along with helping
some students with their self esteem and self expression. It takes a lot to
perform a music ensamble, you need not only practice but to deal with all that
comes along when students need to do a presentation. This kind of experience
will be an asset to anybody in a career position. When students tend to take
pride in their work as an artist they begin to take pride in them selves.

According to Art Education Policy Review, "Arts education promotes
self-expression, creativity, intuitive, and sensory-oriented learning. In
addition, arts education fosters both discipline and cognitive and emotional
development. It also contributes to the nations goals for teaching and learning:
for example, improving the high school graduation rate, promoting student
achievement in challenging subject matter, fostering a disciplined environment.

The public discourse on U.S. competitiveness in the world economy spotlights the
values of problem solving, risk taking, higher-order thinking skills, teamwork
and creativity. These values are part of the arts and art
education.(Hanna,p.37)" Art and music education is important for all these
reasons, the point of art and music isnít to take a students mind off of his
or her academics, but to prepare them for adulthood. The government needs to
insure these programs in our school, and make sure they get the attention they
deserve. I hope I have explained the importance of funding for the Arts and
music programs in our public schools. It is essential to be aware whatís going
on in our schools. Our childrenís and countries welfare may depend on it!