Arts vital to local schools

Thursday, May 10, 2012 - 09:26

We are writing to share our concern for the Visual Arts program in the Anchorage School District. In art classes, students are taught to envision, persist, create, innovate and use their imagination. As art teachers, we can point to numerous former students who are now studying and/or working in graphic design, illustration, architecture and art education. When considering our educational system, and how best to prepare students for the workforce, we understand that the skills we teach will help prepare students for a job market that is unpredictable and ever-changing. For many of our students, the arts are their home throughout the day, the place where they learn how to express themselves, and where they meet their friends and other like-minded peers. Educational studies have shown definitively that students with access to arts education have better academic results, better workplace opportunities and more civic engagement.

This spring, the Anchorage School District was tasked with cutting millions from its budget. When the Superintendent and School Board made decisions on where to cut, their decisions impacted many visual arts programs in the district. Instead of increasing class size by 1.5 students, some high school art programs, like at Bartlett and East, will be cut in half, and entire art programs at Gruening, Wendler and Romig Middle Schools will be eliminated. This will result in less opportunity for our students to study the arts, and to gain the important benefits we discussed earlier.

The amount of reduction in arts classes, including the elimination of some programs, is a tremendous loss for the students, and the community. We ask the Anchorage School District to take another look at the impact these budget cuts are having on the arts. More importantly, if you value the benefits of an arts education that we discussed, we urge the community to give their input by contacting the current and future Superintendant, School Board members, principals and community leaders.

We believe that our schools are as strong as we make them.

Hopefully our schools will be ones in which the arts flourish, and our students benefit.


— Robin Murphy, Alpenglow/Ravenwood Elementary Schools; Rachel Wall, Gruening Middle School; Chris Selin, Bartlett High School; Jacob Bera, Eagle River High School; Denny Barrett, Chugiak High School; Sharon Cruickshank, Eagle River Elementary; Jeanean Allen, Homestead Elementary; Adele George, Mirror Lake Middle School

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