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Arts in education? Tell Obama, “No Duncan in a second term.”

April 15, 2012

Last week we received an email from my department chair with a link to a speech Education Secretary Arne Duncan gave at a Washington DC elementary school on April 2nd.

It is deeply disturbing that all students do not have access to arts education today.

These survey findings suggest that more than 1.3 million students in elementary school fail today to get any music instruction–and the same is true for about 800,000 secondary school students. All told, nearly four million elementary school students do not get any visual arts instruction at school during their formative learning years.

That means those children are not learning to play the recorder. They are not learning to draw self-portraits. They are not learning to play in the band or sing in the Glee Club. They don’t know what it means to take a role in the school play–or to put themselves in the shoes of another person who lived in a different time or place.

And unfortunately, the arts opportunity gap is widest for children in high-poverty schools. This is absolutely an equity issue and a civil rights issue–just as is access to AP courses and other educational opportunities.

I copied back my department.

The disgraceful part of this talk by Arne Duncan is his concern for the narrowing of the curriculum which has excluded the Arts, since no single person is more responsible for the narrowing of the curriculum than he is. His emphasis on test scores, accountability and core curriculum all have served to push the Arts to the far margins of schools concerns. Shameful.

My department chair wrote back.

My thoughts exactly. Talk about talking out your #*^^& .

4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 15, 2012 10:12 am

    Thanks for saying this, for thinking it, and for writing about it!
    More of us in the field of education need to get this information out there.

  2. ReTiredbutMisstheKids permalink
    April 15, 2012 3:16 pm

    What “is deeply disturbing” is that Arne Duncan is STILL the D.o.Ed. Secretary! People, we need to do much, much more than simply sign a “Dump Duncan” petition (which, last time I checked the site, was not even up to 5,000 signatures–PATHETIC!) Every time you receive solicitations to donate &/or to work for Re-elect Obama/Biden, JUST SAY NO THANKS. E-mail back that you are sorry–you gladly worked/donated in 2008, & you like so many things that Pres. Obama has done (although sending Joe Biden in his place to sweet talk the NEA National Convention was NOT one of them!), but, as a teacher, as a parent, as someone who cares about our children & public schools, you simply CANNOT, in good conscience, help/donate in any way UNTIL President Obama REPLACES Sec.Duncan with a REAL, PROFESSIONAL educator (such as Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond or Dr. Diane Ravitch) who actually understands what must be done which is–first & foremost–to get rid of Race to the Top & its ilk (don’t sweep it in under the rug by re-naming it or NCLB!).* Sorry, but what has been done in Ed. under the Obama Administration (don’t forget Rhode Island!!!) has been 10x worse than NCLB–can’t blame Bush for this mess! This was NOT the change I had signed up/voted for.

    AND—STOP STANDARDIZED TESTING!!! (It’s only making the Pearson execs. rich.
    The tests have NEVER been scored correctly {PLEASE read Todd Farley’s 2009 book,”Making the Grades: My Misadventures in the Standardized Testing Industry.” I guarantee you that it will make you sick…&, hopefully, angry enough to do what I’ve suggested.})

    **P.S. Replying to the e-mails in this way leads to their sending you an e-mail that asks that you write some sort of suggestions to the President. So, hopefully, if enough people do this (&, please, people, it’s got to be in the TENS of THOUSANDS or more–look at what happened w/the S.O.S. March on D.C….that’s right, not much. BUT–look what happened in Madison, Wisconsin & IS happening there, & look what happened because 1,000s marched–all over the country–on behalf of Trayvon Martin.)

    Yes WE Can!

  3. Jane Gangi permalink
    July 22, 2012 7:20 pm

    Agreed. Agreed. Agreed. There is so much research that shows the arts forward academic achievement. Arne Duncan, Race to the Top, and the Core State Standards throttle the arts and, therefore, children.

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