Monday, April 30, 2012

Evanston's Saul Lieberman on Arts Education

Addressing Evanston School District 65 Finance Committee members at their April 25, 2012 meeting, parent Saul Lieberman made these comments:

My name is Saul Lieberman. I live in Evanston. I have two first graders at Dawes and a three year old. I would like to state my firm belief that cutting the art position at Dawes is the wrong direction in which to go. The following is an article from Edutopia:

"Art does not solve problems, but makes us aware of their existence," sculptor Magdalena Abakanowicz has said. Arts education, on the other hand, does solve problems. Years of research show that it's closely linked to almost everything that we as a nation say we want for our children and demand from our schools: academic achievement, social and emotional development, civic engagement, and equitable opportunity.

Involvement in the arts is associated with gains in math, reading, cognitive ability, critical thinking, and verbal skill. Arts learning can also improve motivation, concentration, confidence, and teamwork. A 2005 report by the Rand Corporation about the visual arts argues that the intrinsic pleasures and stimulation of the art experience do more than sweeten an individual's life -- according to the report, they "can connect people more deeply to the world and open them to new ways of seeing," creating the foundation to forge social bonds and community cohesion. And strong arts programming in schools helps close a gap that has left many a child behind: From Mozart for babies to tutus for toddlers to family trips to the museum, the children of affluent, aspiring parents generally get exposed to the arts whether or not public schools provide them. Low-income children, often, do not. "Arts education enables those children from a financially challenged background to have a more level playing field with children who have had those enrichment experiences,'' says Eric Cooper, president and founder of the National Urban Alliance for Effective Education."'s a situation where the dollars don't make "cents" for the children. Let's not prioritize the cents but rather let's focus on Creativity, Continuity, Community, Consistency. The cuts should not be on the backs of all the children, and the whole community of Dawes, which benefits deeply by having our arts teachers in our daily lives.
Saul Lieberman is the father of two first graders at Dawes and a three year old. He fell in love with photography at a very young age. He holds a BFA from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. He has worked for New York Times Magazine, Wired, Forbes, GQ, Paper, The New York Times and people across the street.

Saul is reachable via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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