Letter: What is gained by loss of art?

Published: Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013 5:30 a.m.CDT

To the Editor:
I wonder how much the Genoa-Kingston community knows about the values of their school system.
What G-K parents should ask about is the curricular priority list and methods of the administration, and about the subject areas that were sacrificed in the guise of saving a relatively few dollars with the reduction in force actions of March 19.
The District 424 school board answers some of these questions, at least for the 2013-14 school year, by denying formal, licensed visual arts education to its middle school students.

What is to be gained?

As a veteran art teacher, I was at the higher end of the teacher pay scale in District 424, but considering my district tenure (18 years), experience (30-plus years), expertise (PhD equivalent) andmany extras I was able to integrate into instruction, the salary could be considered a bargain. I’m an award-winning instructor and a practicing, prize-winning, published studio artist as well, after all.

So, again, what was gained by my ouster and the cut of middle school visual art in G-K?

Perhaps my belief that the district’s thirst for technology is clouding the judgment of how best we should teach our children has been mistaken for noncompliance. But I was “honorably dismissed” and noted as having done “a good job of integrating technology into her classroom.”

Was it because of her always honest answers to student questions? Ones like:“Is it true you were fired?” Her truthful answer: “No. I was let go because the school board believes that art, with me as your teacher, is too expensive for you to learn. Please let your parents know that I have not done anything wrong.”

One might also think that she was laid off due to her dedication to hands-on manipulative problem-solving, which isn’t easily “assessed” within a cyber context. But don’t we want students to have as much of this proven type of learning as possible?

Could it be the grandiose mythology that anyone can teach art?

I encourage and challenge the G-K Community to ask the simple question: Why?

Then, please, explain the answer, if you get one, to the student body and to this impassioned art educator.

Remember these questions each time you spend looking at anything creative; a human activity, as it happens, nearly impossible to avoid.

As for this visual art teacher … I’ll just miss the kids.

Julie Sorensen


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