Tuesday, January 15, 2013


(inspired by Martin Niemöller)

First they came for the teaching artists because they weren’t employees and their “value added” couldn’t be measured. And I wasn’t a teaching artist, so I said nothing.

Then they came for the music teachers because band and string instruments were expensive to buy and maintain. And I wasn’t a music teacher so again, I said nothing.

Then they came for the dance teachers because, they reasoned, the Physical Education teachers could get the students to move just as easily. And not being a dance teacher, I again said nothing.

Then they came for the art teachers because even though the cost of supplies was small, student “outcomes” were too difficult to measure.  And not being an art teacher, I remained silent and said nothing.

Then they came for the choral teachers and theater directors because those critical after school hours spent rehearsing and preparing for shows and concerts was considered better spent studying so-called “real” subjects.  And I wasn’t a choral teacher or a theater director, and so said nothing.

Then they came for the sports teams like football and hockey, whose equipment and injury costs were high. And though I and others around me began to get nervous, still we remained silent.

Then they came for all the remaining extracurricular activities: all sports activities, clubs, yearbooks, proms, and other student-centered committees because it was all so expensive.  At that point, there was nothing we could really say.

Finally they came for the school itself: the buildings, the buses, the desks and chairs, the kitchen equipment.  And left us with nothing.

They left us with nothing, that is, except an open field and a couple of hundred isolated teenagers each stoically studying the STEM curriculum (science, technology, engineering, and math)…

And then one day we looked over at the young children who weren’t quite school-aged.

And the children were singing.  And dancing.  And clapping. And drawing with sticks in the dirt. And playing tag and keep-away.  And their lives were full of joy and excitement and an obvious eagerness to learn.

And we were no longer silent.

The Vermont Arts Council urges you to support your local school budgets and to voice a vigorous objection to any attempts to cut music, art, dance, theater, or film programs. 


Steve Ames said...

What we have in the US is a remarkable record of innovation, of entrepreneurial activity, of flexible critical thinking - a history of teamwork and problem solving. Passion, curiosity, courage - all qualities, skills, and frameworks developed from creative expression and from play. There can be no question that the arts have supported and inspired our past, and are an indispensable foundation of our future.

Kyra said...

In our household, we have long accepted that arts education will likely have to come from us rather than the school system. It's a horrible thing to not have art, music, and theater combining with STEM programs to enhance both (a bit like having a car with no tires!) I'm a professional artist married to an actual rocket scientist. We fully understand the value of both sides, and the cost of losing either one for our children.