Thursday, January 04, 2007

Let There Be Arts!

The Providence Journal reported in December that Rhode Island is mandating that the schools start giving full access to arts and music.

In a strongly-worded letter, Commissioner Peter McWalters wrote, “It is clear that many students in the Providence public schools have no access to music instruction as a separate subject of study. This is particularly unacceptable given the regulation’s emphasis on access to music instruction for students with disabilities, students who are English language learners and students who are otherwise disadvantaged.”

The commissioner made a similar charge about art instruction, saying the schools don’t provide a comprehensive program of art instruction, including separate facilities for the creation, storage and display of works of arts, supplies and materials. There is no evidence, he said, that Providence high school students have access to the kinds of courses that provide in-depth work in art history, criticism and career education as is required by the basic education plan, which outlines the state’s education requirements.

McWalters did acknowledge that the Providence schools have sustained several years of budget cutbacks that resulted in the loss of numerous art and music teachers. He said, however, that budget constraints were no excuse for not meeting the state’s basic education plan.

This is where it will start. Perhaps our new Governor in Mass can work to effect some type of change like this.

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