I just came home from a wonderful day of celebrating Art and Volunteerism at an elementary school which is named after the author/illustrator of one of my favorite books, Maurice Sendak. Usually when I volunteer at festivals I encounter what I call "free loaders" who go there to grab anything that isn't nailed down, have poor manners, bad attitudes and let their children run amok. I was worried that I was going to deal with these people today, since the school is in a low income part of North Hollywood, but I was pleasantly surprised. The children were in the most part, well behaved. The parents were grateful and the event was nicely organized. The school was promoting Big Sunday which is a weekend where people give back to the community. In addition to the art projects that were being offered, people helped plant gardens at the school, cleaned up and Girl Scouts helped serve lunch that was free to the participants.
It was such a nice feeling to see that people still care about their school, their kid's education and art. The lovely projects I saw being done were so inspiring that it saddened me to think that possibly in the future, these children may not be able to express their creativity because the budget cuts always chop Art and Music first. As an elementary school student a long time ago, art and music were part of the curriculum and much to my mom's dismay, I was always bringing home my "creations" from school for her to display and/or keep. In fact she still has a lot of the christmas ornaments, frames and flower pots that me and my siblings made as children. To me, that's a good mom. I suppose I got my keepsake gene from her, because I SAVE EVERYTHING! Yes, I have all my daughter's artwork from kindergarten on. Luckily I only have the one child.
The school system is so caught up right now with test scores. There is a battle between schools on who can bring in the highest scores. Yes, it's prestige and a way to get more students as parents are convinced that higher test scores make for a better school. But what about the children who express themselves more creatively and not as much academically? Are they destined to fail because they can't pass algebra, but no one bothers to see that they can paint beautifully, compose symphonies, or express themselves with dance? And when we finally get schools who are specifically for these children, they are the first to be on the chopping block.
I'm worried about the future of my grandchildren and great grandchildren (I can dream!) that they will have to paint, compose and dance in secret because society will only acknowledge the academics and not the poets, dreamers and creators. I hope I will be long gone by then, because if not, it will break my heart!