We are mere days away from President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration, and if there's one thing I learned from the story I just finished up about school construction and facilities, it's that a lot of people have high hopes for what he is going to do when he takes office. Already, the House has released a copy of an economic stimulus bill that would give schools up to $100 billion dollars for various programs—everything from bolstering technology in schools to supporting early-childhood education. And according to this article from the Christian-Science Monitor, the arts education world is also hoping to receive a boost from the plan.
Obama was the first presidential candidate to include an arts platform in his campaign, and leaders in the art world hope that, along with other factors, indicate that art and arts education will be a priority for him when he takes office, says the article. In an interview, Obama explained his concern for art and music education by saying, "When I was a kid, you always had an art teacher and a music teacher. Even in the poorest school districts, everyone had access to music and other arts."
"People understood that even though they hadn't done all the scientific research, children who learn music actually do better in math and kids whose imaginations are sparked by the arts are more engaged in school," he added.
One of the ideas that has been floated is an Arts Corps program, which would be similar to the Peace Corps in that it would encourage young citizens to engage in service aimed at promoting art and arts education in the U.S. for a certain amount of time. As someone who lives with two Americorps veterans, I can say that these programs have the ability to change lives—of the people who participate in them and those they work with. Especially at a time when school districts are making tough decisions about whether they can afford to keep art and music classes, this idea speaks to the importance of those subjects to students and to the community.