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From Jacksonville Beach, FL

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

No art, no music, no drama

 Recently, on NPR's  Diane Rehm Show, I heard an interview with the playwright Edward Albee ( "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf,").  At one point, he was asked to give an opinion about the elimination of the arts in many schools as a money saving ploy.  He said that without a study of the arts, we will become a nation of educated barbarians.  I'm paraphrasing here since I was driving and could not write his exact words.
He regretted that schools concentrate on teaching money making skills at the expense of the arts. 
         In November, Florida elected Rick Scott, a conservative Republican, as governor.  His slash and burn state budget, makes deep, deep cuts into education while corporations will receive monetary benefits.  In Duval County, where I live, many options are up for vote by the school board to find school programs to cut.  Those up for consideration are no athletic programs, including Friday night football;  a four day school week;  no after school activities or transportation for them;  teacher furloughs;  and, of course, the arts programs.  It looks like
Florida will become a state of barbarians.
      As a former teacher, I know that sports keep some students from dropping out as well as providing college scholarship opportunities.  As for the arts, they make us human and humane.  Visual art such as drawing and painting show the world from many perspectives and make students more empathetic.  Learning to play music and play it with others, gives those who play a sense of accomplishment and unity.  Drama teaches so much on so many levels:  patience, confidence, taking directions, understanding and empathy with human nature.  
      Loss of any of the arts is a huge loss and diminishes us all.


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