Most Mondays, when I pick up my son after school, he talks about art class. He talks, that is, about how he wishes he could go. In his multi-age classroom, only the eldest kids go to art each Monday afternoon.
The youngest attend only a half day and a small group of kids in the middle stays all day but doesn’t go to art this year. That’s because, in part, with nearly 400 kids in his school, there isn’t enough of the part-time art teacher to go around. It also allows the teacher some extra time with these “middle” kids.
But my son is eager to start art and last week he said, “I can’t wait until next year, because then I can go to art.”
I didn’t have the heart at that moment to tell him that because of the budgets worked out in MPS in January and February, art at his successful school will follow gym and music out the door. There are enough days during which he says he’s lukewarm at best on school. This news won’t help.
The budget news announced in Madison the day before our chat about art pretty much guaranteed that art is out. In fact, it has me and some other parents fearing that considerably more than art — and the other positions and items slashed in the budget process — is out.
That, in turn, leads to fear that some parents will pull their kids out of school, which will mean the loss of even more money, starting a cycle that will certainly put a smile on the faces of folks who want to privatize public schools or divert their funds to private and religious schools.
Last week I talked to another parent who runs an art gallery with her husband — they are both artists — about the idea of recruiting artists to run some version of art class at school next year. An artist is an artist, not necessarily a teacher, of course, so it won’t be the same.
But if we can get it going, at least my child can still look forward to learning how to further express his artistic side.
The next problem is that — unlike his parents — he’s interested in math and likes his weekly sessions with the math teacher leader. Funding for math teacher leaders would be entirely erased if the governor’s budget passes as proposed.