Will less art and music in the classroom really help students soar academically?

Will less art and music in the classroom really help students soar academically?
By Tyleah Hawkins
Journalism students at Howard University’s school of communications were deeply engaged in this year’s presidential campaign as Barack Obama and Mitt Romney battled for the White House. The students wrote widely about the candidates and the issues. Some traveled to Ohio, a key battleground state, and wrote about classmates who canvassed voters there as volunteers for the Obama campaign.
Others wrote about college students struggling to pay rising tuitions after their parents had lost jobs and homes to foreclosures. One student wrote about black Republicans who supported Romney and their status as double minorities – minorities within the Republican Party and among black voters who largely supported Obama. Throughout the year, students reported on the economic and social challenges that working people and poor communities were facing, issues that were being neglected by candidates singularly focused on the needs of the middle class.
And on Election Day, the students covered everything from problem-plagued polling stations to election night parties and spontaneous street festivities in front of the White House. The Root DC is publishing some of the students’ work, starting with the story below by Tyleah Hawkins, a sophomore, about the impact of funding cuts to public school arts programs in poor communities.
Schools across the country have slashed their arts programs in the wake of major funding cuts by state governments struggling to balance their budgets during the economic downturn.

(Oscar Perez/Associated Press) According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, more than 95 percent of school-aged children are attending schools that have cut funding since the recession. Schools in wealthier neighborhoods that faced budget cuts were able to make up for their losses through private donations, while schools in impoverished neighborhoods have not.
As a result, schools in areas serving children from low-income families have reduced or completely cut their arts and music programs. These programs tend to be the first casualties of budget cuts in hard-pressed school districts already struggling to meet other demands of the academic curriculum, and they are rarely restored. Some school districts don’t have much meat left to cut from arts programs that had already been reduced to bare bones after repeated funding shortfalls over many years.
“The cuts that have been occurring for the past couple of decades … however, with this recession, many arts advocates such as myself do not have a clue when some programs will be brought back,” said Narric Rome, senior director of Federal Affairs and Arts Education at Americans for the Arts, a national organization that promotes the arts. “The entire system is very unstable; teachers are laid off one school year and brought back the next, or most times not brought back at all. If we are lucky enough to bring these programs back, they won’t be for a couple of years. Which means some students who are in school during these difficult economic times will completely miss out on the benefits of arts education.”
Although arts and music programs tend to be seen as less important than reading, math or science, research has shown that arts education is academically beneficial.
“Low-income students who had arts-rich experiences in high schools were more than three times as likely to earn a B.A. as low-income students without those experiences. And the new study from the National Endowment reports that low-income high school students who earned few or no arts credits were five times more likely not to graduate from high school than low-income students who earned many arts credits,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a report titled “Arts Education in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools: 2009-10.”
The arts have also proven to be a form of inspiration and expression for at-risk students, especially those in inner-city schools, and have been shown to improve their outlook on education.
According to a study titled “The Role of the Fine and Performing Arts in High School Dropout Prevention,” by the Center for Music Research at Florida State University, “Students at risk of not successfully completing their high school educations cite their participation in the arts as reasons for staying in school. Factors related to the arts that positively affected the motivation of these students included a supportive environment that promotes constructive acceptance of criticism and one where it is safe to take risks.”
Organizations such as ArtsEdSearch, an online clearinghouse that collects and summarizes high quality arts education research studies and analyzes their implications for educational policy and practice, have done private research about the issue. AEP Executive Director Sandra Ruppert said that the findings in the report point to the power of the arts to lead the way in helping every child realize success in schools
“This is especially true for underserved students who benefit most significantly from arts learning but are the least likely to receive a high-quality arts education,” Ruppert said.
Research has also shown that arts education helps improve standardized test scores. A study done by The College Board, a nonprofit association that works to make sure all students in the American educational system are college-ready, found that students who take four years of arts and music classes while in high school score 91 points better on their SAT exams than students who took only a half year or less (scores averaged 1070 among students in arts educations compared to 979 for students without arts education.)
“Arts education gives children a place where they can express themselves and channel negative emotion into something positive. Students are well-rounded and required to be academically healthy in all subjects to perform. To be honest, what is learned in music education is truly immeasurable,” said Barbara Benglian, the 2006 Pennsylvania state teacher of the year. Benglian has been teaching at Upper Darby High school in Drexel Hill, Pa., for nearly 40 years. Her school was one of the many schools at risk of losing their arts programs due to low test scores. However, the arts programs at the school were saved after parents, students and alumni organized petitions and protests rallies. Even Upper Darby alumnus and actress Tina Fey jumped on board to help save the arts program. Other schools around the country are not as fortunate.
Several Howard University students who participated in music and arts education in grade school and high school speak fondly of the positive effect it has had on their lives.
“In elementary school, music sparked my interest and led me to playing the trumpet. It gave me the opportunity to travel to places I otherwise would not have gone, and most importantly, helped me become more culturally accepting by broadening my musical horizons,” said Joe Williams, a junior majoring in psychology. “Without music, I would not be as open as I am to learning about new people.”
Nate Shellton, a sophomore, chose to dedicate his life to the arts by majoring in acting.
“I think it’s absolutely outrageous that fine arts are the first to be cut in public schools,” he said. “It says a lot about what is important to education in America. Because math and science is what is being tested, tests that determine a school’s ranking is what is most important to the school, but the institutions’ ranking is not necessarily what’s in the best interest of the students as a whole person.”

Pilot Episode: First Online With Fran with Angelina Fiordellisi

“I think that one of our greatest responsibilities as theater providers,” asserts Angelina Fiordellisi, “is to sensitize the tribe . . . deepening our primal connections, our primal needs, our primal impulses and what Shakespeare calls ‘holding the mirror up to society’.” This poignant insight is particularly significant since the tragic course of events this past week in Newtown, Connecticut.

On November 19th, 2012 First Online With Fran featured Artistic Director and founder of the Cherry Lane Theatre, Angelina Fiordellisi. Listen to her reflect on the work at the Cherry Lane Theatre, most notably the 2013 Mentor Project, among others, and how they contribute to cultivating an urban artist colony, honor its ground-breaking heritage, create theater that illuminates contemporary issues and transforms the human spirit.

First Online With Fran was shot and edited by The New York Film Shop, Andrea Bertola, Artistic Director.

SUBSCRIBE NOW: http://www.youtube.com/user/FrancesMcgarry

What kind of humanistic or evolutionary programs do you see related to the arts that could make a difference in our educational system?

Georgina Galanis, Responds:

Over the past 40 years, Dr. Susan Mintz-Bello, Director of Organization for the Arts and Whole Brain Learning has passionately taught, researched, written about, and created The I.am.I™ Method of Spontaneous Painting. It is a labor of love.

Susan received her PhD in Expressive Therapy and The Psychology of Art from the Union Institute, Cinn., Ohio, her M.A. in Humanistic Psychology from California State College, Sonoma, and her B.A. in Education and History from New York University. She is a certified Biodanza facilitator, group psychoanalyst, licensed art therapist, and spiritual activist.

She initiated her studies and research into the potentials of human consciousness from 1971 – 1974 in India, studying Vipassana meditation, yoga, Buddhism, and Hinduism. During these years of and her spiritual journey she lived with Tibetan refugees in Northern India and Nepal learning carpet weaving.

From 1980 until 1985 she lived in Indonesia and Singapore and studied painting. She founded the International Women’s Artist Association of Singapore and participated in various group exhibits with other members of this association. In 1985 – 2000 she lived in Brasília, Brazil developing her work in Art Therapy. She founded and directed the Center of Creation, in Pirenópolis, Brazil where she conducted workshops in Spontaneous Painting. Dr. Bello is the author of the book Painting Your Soul: a method to develop the creative personality, published in Brazil, in its 3rd edition. She is currently writing Reawakening the Colors of Life, to be published in the United   States.

Currently residing in New York City, Dr. Bello founded and directs the non-for-profit The Organization for the Arts and Whole Brain Learning. The goal of the organization is to offer training programs in The Spontaneous Painting Process, for facilitators working in education, business, hospitals, and prisons. She conducts workshops, courses and training programs in The I.am.I Process at in Brazil and the United States.

Testimonial #18: Georgina Galanis

Georgina Galanis, The COLORS of LIFE, Creativity Consultant Creative Life Design

How has your life been indelibly touched by a teacher who utilized the arts for whatever reason and acknowledge how they were instrumental in breaking the mold to allow you to become who you are today?

I was acknowledged and “seen” for the first time by my Fashion Arts, Production, Design & Merchandising Teacher– Mrs. Sylvia Fox. She was enthusiastic, creative, a forward thinker ahead of her time, and allowed me to be unique in her class — in fact, she encouraged each of us to find and express our own style and imprint. We became friends during and following my 3 years with her and I was invited back to speak to her new class about my own experiences and career (then in my early twenties as a clothing buyer for an upscale privately owned high fashion store). We remained dear friends and she asked me to accompany her students as a mentor to New York City to visit the Fashion schools that could be choices in their college selection.

She influenced me in that she treated my work and my spirit with respect, and inspired me to grow — Her life was shortened by pancreatic cancer when she was in her early 40’s and I remain forever saddened by the loss of an incredible lady and teacher who changed my life.

As the founder of The Colors of Life concept: a progressively expanding lens of compassionate awareness from which to view and manifest creative potentials , I have integrated my background in design, art and spirituality as a Creativity Consultant and Sacred Space Ensemblier, guiding non profits and individuals to deeper expression and authenticity in life and work.  

How are the arts re-igniting your community and sparking innovation and creativity in your local schools?

Teach the teachers the I.am.I method of Spontaneous Painting….how to use the gifts you were born with –your Innate Authentic Multiple Intelligence. Art technique is not a focus with this method yet it uses non judgmental expression through the act of painting. In addition empathic listening, safe space interactive sharing, movement and meditation is applied to release suppressed creative energies and view new perspectives.  This method can then be applied to any subject, in any class, to any willing student, any age group worldwide.

Creative self-expression is a natural human gift we ALL can develop if given the opportunity. Whole Brain Learning programs, such as spontaneous painting, provide people – from the advantaged to the homeless, and populations with or without special needs – with effective tools to develop their innate authentic Self. When large numbers of people actualize their authentic Self, they align with their unique potentials, life direction, and develop their I.am.I. Together, as each individual emboldens their inner greatness, we form a critical mass and, there will be an evolutionary breakthrough in human consciousness.

Learn more about facilitators and teachers training courses–From the Organization for the Arts and Whole Brain Learning

Gem Magazine Long Island

The Beauty, The Business & Learning About Art

Me? Collect Art? WHY?

Art is not just for collectors. Everyone, young and old, can have an appreciation for creative expression visible through paintings, sculptures, photography and the like.

According to ArtpriceTM, the world leader in art market information, $11.57 billion dollars was generated globally from the sale of art in 2011.This represents an increase of $2 billion dollars from the previous year.While there are many collectors who have a strong appreciation for art, they also consider it an investment. Read more…

Gem Magazine Long Island.