We live in such an exceptional community and are fortunate to have so much access to the arts. Almost daily, we are able to find local music, and even have a Broadway-level theater on our doorstep. Having spent my youth heavily involved in music and art throughout my school career, I have always been so proud that my children would be able to do the same.
This academic year, my first-grader went from having art and music every other day in kindergarten, to having art and music three to four times a month due to budget cuts stemming from New York state improperly funding our district. In September, my daughter will enter kindergarten from a preschool program in which she has music class twice a week and daily art, to less than half of that at the elementary level. As we sit on the edge of another budget crisis, this could dwindle down even further. The arts are essential for developing critical thinking skills, creativity, and fine motor skills. They require making decisions and thinking in different perspectives and develop visual-spatial skills. Music education is directly tied to improving language and math skills. Reducing children’s exposure to the arts is simply shortchanging our education.
I spend a lot of time volunteering within our schools, and one of the things that stands out to me is how truly incredible the educational staff are. These are people who have a fierce passion and dedication to shaping the minds of our children and are some of the kindest souls you will ever meet. Without proper funding, staff and curriculum cuts will continue. Without proper funding, our teachers are losing more and more support. Without support, teachers are going to lose their spirit and passion, and the domino effect that will come crashing down from that is going to be detrimental to the growth of our community.
Our students deserve funding that matches the needs of our community in 2019, not the needs we had 20 years ago. We need our legislators, Senator Helming, Senator Seward, Senator Antonacci and Assemblyman Finch, to stand behind us in our fight for equitable funds before the enthusiasm to teach, and to be taught, is lost.