As an art educator myself, I understand the importance of arts education in every school for every child. The district I live in does not have art at several of the elementary schools. This is very noticeable as they enter middle and even high school. Students who have not had art at the elementary level have a harder time at problem solving, working through their refinements of work, and understanding the relationship art has to a successful life. As it is I don't necessarily see every student at the 6-8 grade middle school I work at during their three years in the middle school. By that time their creativity, problem solving, and ability at doing art has been extinguished and if they are thrown in a high school art class they are lost and shut down easily. Students who have had art all through elementary and then in middle have a better understanding of art and the relationship to life. That by being creative one is learning the process of problem solving and persistence. Students give up so easily these days, no desire to try as they have been taught to "the test" and want instant answers and gratification. The idea of losing oneself in a thought, idea, or brain storm, is gone at most and more than likely thwarted. Being able to see the beauty around us and having a connection to our past is gone. It is like we are producing puppets who have no feelings for the world around them, (the beauty of everyday objects), an appreciation for those who create beauty and the items they purchase on a daily basis. While we are working to increase our graduation rates through stringent ELA and Math programs and testing, we have lost the humanity of teaching to the child. We are now teaching to the test and at a cost. Because this is where districts have to make big choices about what they offer in terms of electives, or extras. With high stakes testing comes money and with money items can be purchased for these run down and depleted buildings and for those who work in these buildings. But who wants to hire someone who can only do work when the answer is obvious or shown how to get. With the arts students learn to make mistakes before finding the answer. To take risks in their beliefs and knowledge. They learn to trust, and be inquisitive, to grow into a person who is a social and engaging individual who contributes to society in a positive way. Isn't that what we want for our children? Well as someone who has had art in her life since Kindergarten I know how important the arts are to one's education. Without the arts school would have been trite, not worth attending, tedious, many of the feelings our students are feeling now. So with your help we can show the country that the arts in education is as important as English, Math, Science, and Social Studies. Don't you remember what it was like to look forward to that art, music, band, or theater class? Well let's not forget and make sure our children and grandchildren have the same opportunities we did. I bet then we will se a difference in the attendance and graduation rates! High stakes testing will be in the dust.

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