Support for the Arts
In an effort to squeeze every possible ounce of the day into test preparation, many schools have reportedly cut back on arts and enrichment programs. The Houston Independent School District, however, is taking the opposite approach. The district has launched a $1.75 million initiative to increase arts offerings in its schools. The money, according to HISD superintendent Abelardo Saavedra, will be used in part to train teachers to integrate music, dance, and other arts into core academic courses like math and science. In announcing the program, Saavedra pointed to research showing that, in fact, arts education boosts student engagement and performance. James M. Clarke, executive director of the Texas Coalition for Quality Arts Education, added that schools’ practice of reducing time for the arts in favor of more academic drilling is counter-productive. “They’re giving [students] more and more work sheets and the brain doesn’t learn that way,” he said.