Sunday, November 20, 2011

Pseudo Arts Program Approved

After unanimously approving over 100 teacher lay offs, (many elementary art, music, phys. ed and library specialists), the Allentown School Board has now approved plans for the arts to be "integrated" into the elementary school curriculum. But instead of re-hiring the specialists, they are instructing the classroom teachers to integrate the arts into core subject areas. The ASD would not have to scramble to create a pseudo arts program if our school board directors would have stood on principle and not approved of the lay offs to begin with.

Art teachers are called "specialists" for a reason: because we know how to teach a specialized subject area. Art specialists have completed the course work and professional training required to teach a comprehensive discipline based art curriculum to children. Apparently there are plans for some chosen veteran specialists to visit schools and help the classroom teachers. But shouldn't these specialists be teaching the children? None of this makes any sense to me. I wonder, is this plan meant to save face, so the administration looks like they have always valued the arts and truly believed that children are more than test scores? This way, the bad guys can be the ones who "saved the arts." This is so wrong.

According to the superintendent's bulletin: "Special Areas 12. 100% of ASD elementary teachers will integrate music, art, physical education, or library science into core subjects at least once a day."

Wait just a minute there geniuses, only a certified art teacher is qualified to teach art. I'm all for arts integration, when done by an art specialist. But this plan is like putting a band aid on a huge gaping wound. I see it every time I substitute teach. The children are being gipped of a quality arts education due to narrowing of curriculum and bad decisions made by school board directors. It is unrealistic to expect classroom teachers to now teach art, music, phys ed and library. Their plates are more than full.This is not a "best practice." These are just more unrealistic goals from a disengaged administration and school board. Please read my post which details exactly what is taught in an art lesson, and it's very "academic" and very "rigorous" in itself. Most classroom teachers are not trained to teach art in this way.

According to the bulletin: "Philosophically, the Board believes that providing opportunities for the integration of related arts to core subjects is essential to a quality education. These classroom opportunities have positive effects on students and often serve as the needed encouragement to keep students engaged in learning. This learning must be rigorous and challenging, resulting in continued progress for all students at all levels."

Well, board members, if you truly believe the above statement then why did you all APPROVE of the lay offs of highly qualified arts teachers in the first place? Why did you all approve of curriculum changes that have deprived our young children of a well rounded education and educational equity? It's a little too little, and a little too late. Here is a link to the superintendent's dreamy bulletin:


Anonymous said...

The arts ARE academically rigorous and challenging when taught by an arts specialist, but classroom teachers who may only know how to incorporate techniques like cutting or pasting are not really teaching the other 3 disciplines of art: aesthetics, history, and criticism which are an integral part of a quality arts program. What about color theory, elements of design, adapting materials to meet needs of students, and there is so much more, which you have outlined well in your post on the cityscape lesson.

Mrs. Dottie said...

Thanks Anon. You must be an art teacher! I guess one good thing is that maybe the kids will get a chance to be a little creative in school, and get a break from worksheets, if the teacher is required to do something artistic or even just crafty. I have noticed that fine motor skills are underdeveloped in many 5-7 yr. old children. This is because they don't color or cut at home, and do very little art at school.

Anonymous said...

All that has been approved by the School Board, via Dr. Zahorchak, has been an outrage. All areas of study are rigorous and should be taught by teachers who are specialists in the subject area. To incorporate one subject into another has been the excuse for laying off teachers. This includes not only the arts, but core subjects, as well. Another way to eliminate teachers has been Full Inclusion. Special Education is a area of expertise, as well. It seems that Race to the Top and No Child Left Behind has become Pile on the Teachers. All are a setup for failure, to the detriment of our students.

Mrs. Dottie said...

Thanks Deb. Good points.