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The Arts Education Canary in the Coal Mine?

I think that a lot of people don’t realize that the past decade has seen historic increases to funding for public education. Some school districts, like the New York City public schools had an increase of 80% or more.

It is a tough pill to swallow, once you realize that the historic increases to funding for K-12 public education did not propel a proportionate increase in the provision and access to quality arts education, particularly in urban, big city school districts.

And now, with state spending falling off a cliff, in a time of profound state deficits, it is quite chilling to read about a high school principal who appears to view the world as either graduation or physical education.

Parents and students packed last Monday’s PTA meeting, where Shevell ousted a Post reporter.

“She was upset. The subject was sports, and the parents wanted home
games,” said Diana Payne, whose daughter plays basketball. “Ms. Shevell
made a statement that her edict was to get the students graduated in
four years.”

When parents continued to question Shevell, she walked.

Parents say Shevell has used various “excuses” for the cutbacks —
including a broken gym divider, asbestos in the gym ceiling and fights
at prior games.

It’s a puzzling story, but you have to wonder, is it a canary in the coal mine, for what’s to come as hard choices and false dichotomies increase in this time of budget crunch and higher and higher stakes accountability?

an ArtsJournal blog