Painting involves chemistry. Sculpture requires an understanding of geometry, gravity, and–in the case of the human form as subject–anatomy. Music is math brought to life. Why then, do we sometimes view arts education as less than essential to developing well-rounded students?
– Joe Neubauer & Deirdre Connelly

Sen. Cisco McSorley
Sen. Cisco McSorley

Arts education is a key component to producing cultured, informed, and creative citizens. And such funding has been slashed and slashed again in New Mexico (as well as in many school districts throughout the nation). Luckily, Sen. Cisco McSorley – a tireless advocate for the arts for many years – is trying to change all this.

Sen. McSorley presented a bill today in the Senate Education committee entitled “Incorporate Arts Education into K-12 Education.” Unlike a lot of misleadingly titled legislation this session (see: “Right to Work”), Sen. McSorley’s bill does exactly what its title suggests. Here’s how the Legislative Finance Committee summarized the bill:

Senate Bill 182 appropriates $350 thousand from the general fund to the Public Education Department to create regional centers to provide curriculum alignment, professional development, technical assistance, portfolio assessment, program support and networking opportunities for highly qualified arts educators to incorporate the arts into standards-based instruction in kindergarten through grade twelve. Any unexpended or unencumbered balance remaining at the end of a fiscal year shall not revert to the general fund.

Arts education has potentially vast ramifications for our educational policy and specifically addresses many of the most systemic problems in New Mexico’s education system. Students studying art “are 4 times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement and 3 times more likely to be awarded for school attendance.” Further, “sustained learning in music and theater correlates strongly with higher achievement in both math and reading.” Further still, “multiple studies have concluded that curricular and extracurricular art studies and activities help keep high-risk dropout students stay in school.” (SOURCE: 11 Facts About Arts in Education)

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ABQ artist Christian Gallegos’ “The Theory of Everything”

 

In April of last year the Chairman of the Board of The Barnes Foundation and the President of North America Pharmaceuticals, GSK teamed up for an op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer about the need for more arts education and its impacts on the larger economy.

Take a look at these thought-provoking excerpts from their op-ed and think about how the “more funding for the arts” approach presents an innovative counter-point to the tired, divisive educational policies being pushed by Gov. Martinez and her Republican allies in the legislature (flunking third graders, high-stakes testing, taking local control away from school districts, etc.):

Painting involves chemistry. Sculpture requires an understanding of geometry, gravity, and–in the case of the human form as subject–anatomy. Music is math brought to life. Why then, do we sometimes view arts education as less than essential to developing well-rounded students?

A solid education in the arts helps children learn how to debate, exchange ideas, and discover new ways of seeing, thinking, and perceiving the world around them. We need more inquisitive and creative minds in the workforce. We want multidimensional thinkers pursuing careers in public service. That’s why investing in arts education is more than a “nice to have”– it is critical.

Research indicates that learning through the arts has positive effects on learning in other areas. For example, multiple years of enrollment in arts courses are positively correlated with higher SAT verbal and math scores. Kids who are inspired to learn through the arts are more likely to stay in school. These same children are more likely to grow up to be successful in companies like ours and to be leaders in our communities.

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