May 18


No Chance At Life

Kate Eshelman just got the worst news. For an arts teacher anyway. On April 6, she wrote the following on her blog, Lessons From the K-12 Art Room:

I just received news that the K-12 art program in my school district is being cut due to lack of funding.  While I am upset about losing my job and having to say goodbye to the 350 students I have come to care about, I am most upset that the children and teenagers in my district will not be receiving an art education.  All children deserve to have an art education.  Art is not just an “extra,” it is an important part of each student’s education.

Eshelman teaches in the village of Galatia in Saline County, Illinois. According to the 2010 Census, the population was 933.

The following are some of the pictures her students drew upon hearing this sad news. One student writes, “…Without art at school I have no chance at life.” Another, “A world without art is a world without me.” 

Mallory Forsgren knows exactly what it’s like to lose arts education. The last time the Crescent, Oklahoma high school junior had music education was the 8th grade. She dreams of becoming a classically-trained vocalist, but limited access to private voice lessons have made that dream hard to attain. Mallory recently tried out for the Oklahoma Arts Institute and was very fortunate to be selected as an alternate. (A small feat, we assure you because OAI competition is very stiff!) She also has an opportunity to apply again next year. (Good luck, Mallory!) But, we have to wonder — if Mallory had been given access to music education in her public school these last three years, she might have been selected for OAI this year.

Mallory Forsgren pictured here with the Oklahoma State Department of Education Chief of Staff; Senator A.J. Griffin, her mother and Rep. Dale DeWitt. 

Sometime ago, Mallory learned about Oklahomans for the Arts. She began following our Facebook updates and learned about Arts Day at the Capitol. She asked her mom to bring her so she could advocate for arts and music education. She received a nice reception from her legislators, Senator A.J. Griffin and Rep. Dale DeWitt.

Part of the mission of Oklahomans for the Arts is to advocate for more arts education in our public schools. You can help us by sharing our information with all your friends.

Very soon the Oklahoma Legislature will recess for summer and fall. They will adjourn again in February. It has been a tough session for the arts, but with the help of a lot of caring people House Bill 1895 and House Bill 1430 were defeated. HB 1895 would have eliminated all funding to the Oklahoma Arts Council and HB 1430 would have extended the moratorium on the Art in Public Places program.

The students’ letters from Galatia are crushing to read. They very easily could have been written by a student from Oklahoma. What are we going to do about it?

Here is something Kate Eshelman posted on her blog. OFTA wishes her the best of luck as she advocates for those 350 students.

10 Lessons the Arts Teach from Art and the Creation of the Mind, Eliot Eisner

1. The visual arts help children learn to communicate what cannot be said through words.

2. The visual arts teach children to make good judgments about qualitative relationships. In the arts,     judgments rather than rules prevail.

3. The visual arts teach children that problems can have more than one solution and questions can have more than one answer.  The visual arts encourage divergent rather than convergent thinking.

4. The visual arts teach children to celebrate multiple perspectives. Through the arts children learn that there are many ways to see and interpret the world.

5. The visual arts teach children to imagine possibilities.

6. The visual arts make vivid the fact that neither words in their literal form nor numbers can exhaust what we know.  The limits of our language do not define the limits of our cognition.

7. The visual arts teach students to think within a material

8.  The visual arts teach students that small differences can have large effects.

9.  The visual arts teach children to experience and express a range and variety of emotion.

10.  The position of the visual arts in the school curriculum symbolizes to children what adults think is important.

— Jennifer James McCollum on Google+