Thursday, April 7, 2011

Combating the Lack of Funding for Arts in Schools, Michigan Style

Michigan’s Observer and Eccentric reports that Girl Scout camps will be offering arts programs this Summer at Camp Linden. The 400-acre camp will offer sessions in painting, drawing, sketching and sculpting, along with jewelry craft and art from nature. Campers will also enjoy swimming, hiking, boating and archery. No prior membership in Girl Scouting is required.

According to the Michigan Council on Arts and Cultural Affairs, public funding for school art projects in the state has been reduced to $2 million, down from $26 million in 2006, despite research that continues to pour in on the positive impact of arts education.

Highlights from a 2004 UNESCO report include the following: Three-year-olds who had 10-15 minutes of piano instruction and 30 minutes of singing lessons each day scored 80 percent higher in spatial intelligence (as measured by puzzle assembly). Training in piano and singing improved students' abstract reasoning skills better than computer instruction did. Piano and voice students scored 34 per cent higher than did their counterparts who had computer instruction. Research conducted on fourth graders in 24 elementary schools showed that children exposed to arts education experienced test score increases of: 7 percent in reading in humanities; 10 percent in social studies; 25 percent in math; and 7 percent in science.

Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan officials said according to the College Entrance Exam Board, students who had studied arts for more than four years scored 59 points higher on the verbal section of the Scholastic Aptitude Test, and 44 points higher on the math section of the exam, compared to students who had less than four years of arts education.

Additionally, according to a 2008 Dana Consortium Report on Arts and Cognition, neuroscientists at seven major universities have found strong links between arts education and cognitive development in children. Students involved in the arts develop attention and memory skills that also apply to other subject areas.

“We know that arts education enhances all learning, “said Julie Yeager, Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan outdoor program promotions specialist. “This summer, Camp Linden offers girls the unbeatable combination of arts exploration in a non-competitive natural setting.”

I personally feel very strongly about the importance of arts funding in public schools. What are your thoughts?