Education, Michigan Republicans, Rick Snyder, Teachers — March 27, 2013 at 2:56 pm

50 Lansing elementary phys.ed, art & music teachers being replaced with 10-20 part-time consultants


Why doesn’t this make me feel any better?

Last week, I wrote about Lansing Public Schools firing all 50 of its elementary phys. ed., music and art teachers to save $6 million in their shrinking budget. The post has gone fairly viral getting over 30,000 views.

Apparently the school system got an earful from folks outraged that an essential part of kids’ education was being forfeited, in part to pay for corporate tax cuts. They have now responded:

“The Superintendent is receiving calls from arts groups all over the state saying, ‘Why are you cutting the arts?’” says district spokesman Bob Kolt. “But it’s just not true…we’re contracting out those services to community artists.”

Kolt says the district will bring in about 10-20 “contractors” to help elementary classroom teachers with art, music and gym instruction.

It’s not enough to replicate the 50 teachers who’ll be laid-off in those areas. But it will give classroom teachers an extra hand from time to time, and even provide kids with more “hands-on” arts learning, says Kolt.

“We’re going to take some of these community arts programs and put them in schools, rather than have a lot of uncertified art, music, and P.E. teachers,” he says.

I admit that this is certainly better than NO teachers providing this education or even teachers who aren’t qualified doing so. However, this is simply a Band-Aid on a gaping wound. The fact is that arts education is an important part of our kids’ education. Despite the idiotic fecal commentary ignorant commenters dropped on my original, these are hardly “non-essential” parts of education. Some of these shallow thinkers seem to believe that arts, music and phys. ed. are somehow luxuries that we can no longer afford for our kids. The truth is otherwise. As the studies I linked in that piece show, arts education helps kids do well in other academic areas and fostering creative thinking is a crucial element in developing the entrepreneurs of the future.

I continue to be astonished at how ill-informed so many people are about education and its importance to society. These same folks believe that we can starve our schools, demonize our educators while paying them less and less, and destroy our public school system so that for-profit corporations can take over and yet we’ll somehow continue to attract qualified, dedicated people into the teaching profession. It doesn’t make sense on its face yet they have convinced themselves that it is true.

Governor Snyder may want us all to believe he is “pro-education” and that his administration is doing everything it can to fix all that is wrong with Michigan’s education system. The reality in our schools proves otherwise.

[Artwork by Theo W. (aka “The O”), Snyder caricature by DonkeyHotey from photos by Anne C. Savage for Eclectablog]]