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 #*^^& .