Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Con Artists

Some Upper Darby parents and teachers are in a tizzy over a proposal that would see some cuts in elementary school art classes.

Why don't I care? I asked my shrink. My print column is up.

UPDATE: The first commenter on the column stepped up to the plate and suggested cutting gym teachers and gym time instead. I applaud the suggestion but just imagine what our First Lady would say.

UPDATE II: From the mailbag:
I read your column today   -  Why stop at music and arts?    Lets get rid of football, basketball, cheerleading, and all clubs.  Lets continue to raise a bunch of zombies. Have you ever been to Upper Darby Performing arts?  I would like to know if you have ever been to a district art show, or a band concert?  May be you might have a different view.   Elizabeth Williams
To which I replied...
Ms. Williams, I can guarantee you that going to a district art show or band concert would not change my view about this minor restructuring of district's elementary school arts programs.
But I would be supportive of anyone who wanted to started a charter School for the Performing Arts? In the meantime, I will continue to consult my shrink to see if I can get my mind right.


Blogger Bob Bohne said...

Miss Williams has a point. Have you compared the cost of sports programs to the cost of arts and culture programs? Could more money be saved by eliminating the sports programs as opposed to art programs? Has this been proposed? Is the teaching of creativity any less important than say, the teaching of team work? I would suspect that sports programs cost considerably more when you factor in the cost of maintaining gymnasiums and athletic fields. I understand and appreciate your passion for sports, but I would suggest that arts and culture plays a much more important role in academic education. Unfortunatly in our society the emphasis is less on who can be creative and think outside of the box, and more on who can nail the 3pointer before the buzzer goes off.

May 30, 2012 at 9:56 AM 
Blogger Spencerblog said...

I seriously don't care if Upper Darby decides to get rid of football in order to pay a few elementary school art teachers. That's their call. Let the district and its school board set its priorities without demanding others pay for them.

I think it is a stretch to believe that elementary school art teaches kids to "think outside the box." But our society as a whole definitely rewards people who do, as the success of Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs etc. can attest.

May 30, 2012 at 12:31 PM 
Blogger Dannytheman said...

I think Art and Music are as important as Math and Science. It has been proven that good musical skills increase ones ability at math and science.
I would leave the gym classes alone, for now. But I would charge parents for the after school activities, like Football, baseball, track and all other sports. Most of these are coached by existing teachers that get a activity bonus. Pass the activity bonus directly to the parents whose kids are involved and remove the socialism aspect to the spread the wealth practices.

Welcome back, Bob. I have missed you.

May 30, 2012 at 12:33 PM 
Blogger Bob Bohne said...

Thanks Danny. Like the sighting of a rare white elk. Right? New GF. Keeping me busy. BTW - I like your ideas on this Danny.

Gil - Thinking outside the box, like anything else, has to begin somewhere. Why not elementary school. You well know that a childs mind is like a sponge at that age. Teaching creativity is priceless to the future of any child. It's the realization of their ability to make something out of nothing. What can be more important than that? This isn't just about painting a picture or singing a song. It's about invention. Learning to improvise. It's about learning how to communicate with people in a way that transcends common language. In my sometimes not so humble opinion, I believe that treating the arts as something trivial is a danger to society. I wonder what Charles Murray would have to say.

May 30, 2012 at 1:49 PM 
Blogger Andrew Blum said...


It saddens me that a true patriot like you would be more than ready to sell our creative kids down the river. Surely art is a social good, as you would no doubt agree. So I find that you applauding our Governor and School District for withholding these vital programs disingenuous at best, or downright cruel and short-minded.

Why would you take anything away from our future entrepreneurs, artists, musicians, computer techs, translators, cooks, and yes---professional athletes?

Clearly there is some benefit to such classes, as you can see that similar cuts in other areas has lead to lower academic performance and overall performance. For an example, see the William-Penn School District, the Chester-Upland School District, the Reading School district, and the dozens (hundreds?) of other underfunded and failing public school districts.

If you care about our children's future you wouldn't entertain cutting a single dollar from them, especially when a single corporate tax write-off (think Dow Chemical, Chesapeake Energy, etc...) would more than cover all the proposed cuts and wouldn't hit working people in the pocket. Not to mention save jobs

Furthermore you equivocate by mentioning Charter Schools. By suggesting they are a permanent solution, you are essentially admitting that some students do need cultivation in the arts and other "special" programs from a young age.

Certainly not all students, (particularly special education students) will be able to get into such an (as of yet non-existent) charter school focusing on arts. This is because Charter schools can choose who they accept and aren't required to provide services to students whom they find would be more expensive to to special education needs.

Even if such a local "art-based" Charter School existed, it would remove the funding from the traditional public schools, further worsening their academic curriculum and ultimately harming non-"special" classes, such as math, English, History--you know, the stuff we're "supposed" to learn in school.

Most of all Gil--you come off as a bitter and cold-hearted ideologue.

You make it clear you will stand behind any effort (however outrageous)that your "skinflint" Governor takes to starve the public workers and leave citizens with fewer services or higher property taxes. Specifically, the ATR "tax pledge" completely binds his hands to raise state taxes, which leaves the local government holding the bag (in the form of high property tax.)

My two cents

May 30, 2012 at 2:03 PM 
Blogger jake said...

Permit me to pose a couple of more urgent questions:

Isn't financial responsibility a far better lesson for our children than any elementary cultural exposure? Shouldn't we be teaching our kids that life includes tough choices, and sometimes you can't have everything you want or think you deserve?

Right now, every one of those kids, in Upper Darby and throughout America, are burdened with a debt of $150,000, before they even can understand the selfishness and moral failures that caused it.

As a nation, we are facing an overdue financial reckoning and hard decisions like this are going to be more and more common.

May 30, 2012 at 7:39 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You said the first commenter proposed cutting gym class and gym teachers. In Upper Darby this IS part of the proposal. They're not proposing to cut simply art and music but also gym classes, foreign language classes and technology classes completely. It's not simply cutting out "arts and crafts."

May 30, 2012 at 9:08 PM 
Blogger Dannytheman said...

Andrew Blum,

Who get's to decide what is the "Social good"? You? Seems simple to just say, yup, Upper Darby School board screwed up so let's tax everyone in the State, doesn't it. People over spending and getting federal and state grants and dollars. Then when the funds dry up due to poor economic conditions, just pass along the elected peoples screw ups to us all? No. Not ideologue, just not rewarding the idiots.
As it is right now, I am bailing out the city of Harrisburg for fiscal stupidity, tons of my dollars go to Philly who continues to throw money at things and fix nothing. Your way only allows the idiots to continue to not make the tough decisions. If you screw up you would get rewarded by the state. Do you believe Upper Darby's school board and administration have any culpability here?

May 31, 2012 at 8:44 AM 
Blogger Bob Bohne said...

I still dont hear talk of cutting Jr high and high school football, basketball and cheerleading. Do these games have preference over educational programs? And no Jake, I don't think teaching economics is more important than arts and culture, but in this day and age it might be just as important. But that would require the addition of home economics classes. Which probably wouldnt be a bad idea.

May 31, 2012 at 8:58 AM 

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