Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Another Message for the Indian River School Board

I have sent the following as a letter to the editor to the WAVE newspaper. I think. The WAVE's Letter to the Editor page was acting odd the other night; when I hit "submit," it didn't go to a thank you" page. It stayed on the submissions page. We'll see if this letter made it into the paper.

My attention was caught last week by a quote from one of the Indian River School Board members about the Southern Delaware School of the Arts (SDSA). The Board member is quoted as saying that the arts programs at SDSA are like “dessert” and that the Board should concentrate on providing only that which is required by law as they consider how to cut the district’s budget.

Setting aside, for the moment, questions about how the district has arrived at the point where such considerations are necessary, I have to say that to hear a member of any school board accept the notion of limiting the opportunities and education offered to our children is deeply troubling.

The arts, as an integrated part of a broader academic curriculum, as they are at the Southern Delaware School of the Arts, are anything but “dessert.” They are, in fact, the vegetables and spices that make the meal both healthier and tastier. Fully integrating the arts and academics should be the rule, rather than an exception. Years of high test scores and, more importantly, the evidence of the well-rounded, academically achieving, and well-prepared students produced by the School of the Arts bear this out.

I am worried by an elected School Board member advancing the idea that we owe the children only the few “R’s” required by law. As parents, as the adults of the community, we have a sacred responsibility to provide our children, and all of the children of the community, a full and fully rounded education. To approach this duty with any notion of limiting that education in any way would be criminally short-sighted.

Rather than considering limiting the extent to which the arts are integrated into education, the Indian River School Board should seek every opportunity to expand the integration of arts and academics. The Southern Delaware School of the Arts offers a strong proof of that concept and a successful model to follow and on which to build.

I've tried to send this to the WAVE because that's where the Board member's quote appeared. I may also shoot it off to the other papers.

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