Over the next few months, school districts across Washington state will be faced with hard decisions on budgets. While we all hope for positive outcomes, the reality is that cuts are going to happen across a majority of districts. This is why it is important to ACT NOW to get the message out to your school board that the arts programs are very important and highly valued. School Boards respond to the input of the community that elected them, so showing up at our School Board meetings throughout the rest of the school year will be essential.
The arts are part of basic education and required by state law to be taught in our schools. That means arts education must be provided equitably to all students throughout their K-12 education. However, these essential programs continue to be in jeopardy. For example, in the Bellevue School District heavy cuts were aimed at K-5 visual art, general music, and 5th grade instrumental music. Those cuts as well as a proposal to cut a period in the middle school day would have significantly impacted arts education. But through active engagement with the School Board by students and parents and the greater community, the slated cuts were avoided. But the risks to these and all districts arts programs remain.
If the School Board and senior district staff aren’t continually made aware of how important these arts programs are to us and to our kids, cuts are likely to be made without opportunity for further public input. Even more concerning is that the arts programs may be cut more heavily than other subjects. It’s not fair that this core subject – as essential to a complete education as math and English – be singled out to bear the brunt of cuts.
So, we’re calling on all parents and students in districts statewide to stand up and speak out for the arts by attending at least one school board meeting in the next few weeks. Find out when your school board meets, then plan to attend. At the meeting, thank the board for providing arts education in your district; telling a brief, specific story about how it makes a difference for you (student input is essential!) or your child(ren) and asking your school board to ensure that the arts do not bear the brunt of budget cuts.**
In follow up, write an email or letter to the school board. Reiterate your request to not cut the arts at your schools. You can use our talking points to help you in your communication.
**Note: While your stories will relate to the arts discipline your child participates in, you’re encouraged to refer to “the arts” to ensure a united front for all kids and all arts.