Lexi C. North Dakota

The Arts in Our Schools

A letter detailing the issue of the lack of funding for the arts programs in public schools. It explains the benefits of the arts, as well as the damage it will do to our future if they continue to be neglected as they are now.

Dear President,

For eight years I have played the violin, in that time I have also been in choir, played the flute, and tried art club. Music is one of my passions. However, every year I see the struggle for many of these beloved programs to stay afloat. The government funding for these programs is lacking. Every year at my school, we hold a massive fundraiser, every music group from seventh grade and up preforms and sells tickets. We are lucky that our community pulls together, many other schools are not.

While I may have found my passion in music, music is not the only program in the arts category. Theater, ceramics, painting, to name a few. As of now with the current laws in place, the arts programs are underfunded. The National Endowment for the Ats only allots 160 million dollars. That funding sadly falls under the title one category and can be used for practically anything. Even with that money, each school only receives about 1620 dollars. That may seem like quite a bit, but that funding often is used to buy supplies. My orchestra alone could burn through that funding. One of our more classical pieces cost 600 dollars a part, and that doesn’t include the shipping it from overseas. Sadly that is not an exaggeration.

The funding of the arts will have a gigantic impact on tomorrow's culture. Although it may not seem like it, our current culture revolves around art. Simply look at any social media app. The app was designed using coding and graphic design. The clothes we wear were first sketched out on paper before being sewn. The music that fills our lives was created by someone who had a passion in the arts. A student who fell in love with theater may be behind some of the television shows we watch today. Someone who loved to draw may now be a graphic designer who creates the elegant design of Windows 10. The people who are behind the creation of our rich culture often started in the arts. If we deny the funding, we deny children their chance to explore the arts, and we deny ourselves a rich culture for tomorrow.

Music to me is not just something that lifts my mood during school, it aides me throughout my entire day. As Frank Fitzpatrick said, a writer for the Huffington Post, “the benefits of music could fill several books.” Among fellow musicians there is almost always talk of fast fingerings, complex rhythms, annoying accidentals, and especially among orchestra player, the terms in german, french, latin, russian, italian, and occasionally spanish. Playing an instrument results in improved motor skills, greater focus skills, enhanced cognitive abilities, stronger pattern recognition, and better organizational skills. Not to mention that music stimulates more than one area of the brain. Being in the Orchestra has given me better social skills, relaxations techniques, and concentration abilities. These benefits of music also appear in other areas of arts.

The arts are often an overlooked part of our education system, with often bureaucrats saying that core classes will get a student farther in life. That may be true, however if we exclude the arts and simply push more tests as is already being done, we are failing the children. If we deny children the chance to explore, to be creative, to grow, then we fail as a nation. We are saying it is more important for a child to know the quadratic formula than to be happy. By doing this we are telling students that if you do not understand the government set curriculum, then you are a failure. Our education system focuses too much on being smart in core classes. One girl in my orchestra struggles with math, but she is a genius on the violin. The system sees her as a student who barely passes a math test, I see her as a confident, brave, and amazing friend who can knock any solo out of the sky. No matter how brilliant she is on the violin, she is considered a below average student. Our government needs to realize that not everyone is a genius in math. Why cannot the boy who fails his english class be seen as an amazing artist? They are geniuses in their own field, no failures.

The stereotyping, the strict standard, the overtesting, and the lack of government support for the arts are a few of the reasons why we see so many students who are depressed, anxious, and suicidal. Government funding of the arts can allow many more schools to have these programs for the first time. Those programs will allow a student who is failing to find their passion, to succeed at something. To no longer bee a failure. Art programs can relieve stress, anxiety, depression, provide a place to grow, and to make friends. The arts can change the future of our country, of our students, of our children. However if we continue to neglect these irreplaceable programs, we are likely to see a rise in depression, anxiety, and suicide rates. The arts have many benefits, but these programs will fade without further government funding. Mister or Madam President, I ask you not only to think about the future of this country, but the future of your children, your grandchildren. Please allot more government funding and support the arts programs in our public schools.

Sincerely Lexi Carlson

Magic City Campus

Thomas - Jr English 2

Mr. Thomas' 2nd Hour Junior English

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