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Why Art Makes Kids Smarter

Save arts education at your school!

 

Arts programs are expensive-so they're often the first thing to go. But they don't have to fall victim to the budget ax, especially if parents take action. Last spring, when the San Diego Unified School District decided to cut its art programs, parents organized and spent several hours pleading before the school board. The result: The board reversed its decision. "Parents have much more power than they realize," says Richard Kessler of the Center for Arts Education. "But they have to use it." How to do just that:

Sign up for Parenting's Mom Congress at Parenting.com/momcongress. You can connect with moms from across the country who are fighting for the same changes you are, plus access our Arts in Action tool kit, a one-stop-shop resource guide. You'll find links to top arts-advocacy organizations, along with a super-easy way to let your representative know that funding for arts education is one of your top priorities.

Find out what the law says. Contact your school board and state department of education to learn how many hours of arts education your state mandates. Then look at your child's schedule to see if that's what he's getting. Unfortunately, it's common for schools to ignore the law without repercussions.

Reach out to the principal. If you'd like to see more arts on the school schedule, gather a group of like-minded parents and ask the following questions: Does every grade receive arts instruction every week? Is there a budget for the arts? Is there a designated arts teacher for each discipline?

Speak up. Show how much you value arts education by sharing your child's experience at school-board meetings, and encourage other parents to do so. A few voices can go a long way.

Go public. Let your local news reporters know immediately if your school's arts program is being threatened. Another effective strategy: Submit a letter to the editor or an opinion piece about the importance of arts education.

Get riled up. Need more motivation? Watch the video of Tom Chapin's satirical (and hilarious) song "Not On the Test" (Notonthetest.com) and e-mail the link to school officials.

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