OP/ED: It never hurts to ask

When I was a kid… My elementary school had a music program, we put on plays, we had art classes. We wrote books, illustrated them, bound them and entered district competitions.

Now I have 3 kids…

Their elementary school has no music program, no art classes and no school plays.

Perhaps the days were longer or time passed slower in the late 70’s early 80’s? I remember learning about adjectives and adverbs in 2nd grade, multiplication in 3rd grade and Native Americans in 4th grade. Nothing was missing in my education.

But the Arts is missing from my children’s education.

My 10-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter attend Maude Price Elementary. As they put it, “the BEST school in the world.” They forbid us from moving, which up until recently I wasn’t sure if we would stay.

My children’s education is my priority. I want them to have the best learning. I want them to be well rounded and confident. I want them to compete for the best jobs in the career of their choice. Therefore, they need to have a solid literary mind. They need science, technology, engineering and math. But most of all they need what binds these elements together and transforms them into something new: Art.

In a recent study by IBM, CEOs ranked creativity as the most important leadership quality they were looking for in workers.

Last year I got involved at their school. I became Price’s PTA Reflection Chair, basically an Art Contest Organizer. I quickly realized the lack of art and motivation for it from our student body. Out of nearly 900 students, 33 entered the contest.

For those 33 students, the Stay Gallery opened its doors when I approached them to judge. They went a step further and hosted a showing of all their work one evening. Each student arrived with their families to see their work hanging in an art gallery. That was all it took. I realized that we had to find other ways of brining art back in to our schools.

Since our exhibition at Stay Gallery, the organization has been in direct contact with me, along with other parents and teachers to find ways of bringing art education to students. We have had multiple group discussions in the gallery regarding different ways our children can be exposed to art. Our conversation has led Stay Gallery to bring in more field trips and an expansion of student exhibition that includes elementary and middle schools. Though all those things are an important step to exposing students to art, more needs to be done. The organization is also working directly with artists and teachers to create lesson plans that integrate arts with STEM based learning and began piloting after-school programs at a couple of school sites.

I am encouraged to see how Stay Gallery has been active in addressing our concerns as parents in the community. Perhaps by the time my 2-year-old enters elementary school DUSD will have restored the music program to original levels including 4th grade introduction to music. It never hurts to ask.

Linda Salomon Saldana is Maude Price PTA President.

 

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Published: April 16, 2015 - Volume 14 - Issue 01