May 27, 2009

Long Live The Arts!

This September, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will continue the tradition of the National Book Festival, which was created by that nation's first librarian, former First Lady Laura Bush. I find the Obamas' continuation of this tradition inspiring, one in a line of many initiatives that celebrate the incredible artistic achievements of Americans. Earlier this month, Obama held a poetry jam at the White House, celebrating the rhythm of our nation in style. The Obamas have an obvious appreciation of the arts, not only for themselves, but for Americans, as well. I hope that they will continue their initiatives not only in the White House, but all over the country, especially in schools. The No Child Left Behind Act is not in the business of promoting the arts in the public schools. I worked as a literacy coach at a Boston Public School that was in danger of losing funding because it failed to "meet" the criteria of the NCLB Act. I am concerned that loss of funding through this ill-conceived legislation, in addition to the current recession, will impede the growth of arts in our schools. The arts are often the first of the academic arsenal to be cut, completely non-intuitive, especially, when research suggests that exposure to the arts improves attention and intellectual stimulation. The arts foster openness and creativity necessary in every career and life experience. If we want to raise sensitive, keen children, we should ensure they are singing, painting, and reading up a storm, following the example of our new president and his wife.

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