When the budget cuts start, the first victim is usually the arts.

The people who make the financial decisions think that the arts don’t matter.

How wrong they are. Why do they prioritize the budget for assessment over the budget for singing, dancing, and the joyful activities associated with the arts?

Do they think that students come to school just to be tested? Don’t they understand anything about the need for expression, the need to feel joy in creating and designing and singing and acting together?

Students know. Teachers know. Parents know. Why don’t the politicians and the policymakers know? Weren’t they once children?

Life without the arts, school without the arts, is nasty, brutish and way too long.

In districts across the country, the arts are in jeopardy because of budget cuts and misguided priorities. Districts are digging deep to pay for more tests even as they axe the arts.

One district that is fighting back is Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. Upper Darby is facing massive budget cuts, and the arts are on the chopping block. Parents and community members created a video that is joyful to watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gh8RNhMo4Ks

Every district should create a video to showcase the talents of its students. Kids are amazing. The bands and orchestras and string groups and jazz groups and dance groups and drama groups are better than anything you will watch on television tonight.

Can your district do what Upper Darby did? Maybe it will educate the budget cutters if we can get them to watch.

Do not let them kill the younger generation’s creative spirit, its joy in performance, the sheer exuberance that the arts unleash. We are the adults. We owe it to them to prioritize what matters most, to them and to us.

Diane