Sunday, October 23, 2011

Because Art and Music don’t pay da bills, that’s why

I really appreciate what Art, Music, and Foreign Language bring to the table in terms of a complete education.  It addresses needs to the soul and in some instances can create things often seem other-worldly and beautiful.

And with the exception of some foreign languages, it is fairly worthless in terms of income.

So California is passing AB 1330, a law that has Artists, Musicians, and language junkies enraged.  According to the San Jose Merc:

A new law that enacts a seemingly small change, allowing students to count one vocational class as credit toward graduation, has both supporters and detractors predicting a major shift in high school education.

Backers depict AB 1330 as a start toward teaching students job-market skills, through courses such as keyboarding, medical assisting and metal shop. The law goes into effect for the 2012-13 school year.

So what we are doing here is adjusting the requirements to graduate high school to actually mean something to students that don’t see relevancy in “college prep” liberal arts classes like art and music.  While these teachers might be right in being concerned with funding for arts and music, I think it is quite disgusting the amount of arrogance shown by some that assume being “educated” means you need to take German, ceramics, and learn how to play the trombone.  The state has shown no doors for those that won’t go or graduate from college (you know, the other 75% of the population) and that needs to change, now.  The demand for workers is out there, but we are continuing to show students the areas of demand. 

And don’t get me wrong.  Students should be guided into learning Spanish if they live in California because it makes you more marketable.  But we continue to push this idea of “do what you love” without being honest about the job prospects of those about to enter the work force.  Theater Arts are fantastic, but it is one of the worst paying degrees over the lifetime of the degree holder.  And check this out by Fareed Zakaria in Time Magazine:

    “Perhaps the most crucial measure of our ability to compete in a global economy is our educational attainment, especially in science, math and engineering……In 2004 only 6% of U.S. degrees were awarded in engineering, half the average for rich countries. In Japan it’s 20%, and in Germany it’s 16%. In 2008–09 there were more psychology majors than engineering majors in America and more fitness-studies majors than physical-sciences majors.”

I’m not against Art, Music, and Foreign Language, but we need a serious reality check if we are truly going to meet the needs of those simply graduating from high school.   Often these are the same teachers that complain that students are “dumped” into their classes because there is nowhere to put them.  Well, now we can bring relevance to their high school day and when they come to Art class, it’ll be because they want to be there. 

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