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Friday, June 1, 2012

How to Save the Arts In Philadelphia

How many of you played an instrument in elementary school? Performed in your school choir? Won an art competition? Climbed a rope in gym class? Well, consider yourselves lucky, because if Pennsylvania legislatures have their way, not too many students in our state will be able to say the same.

A few weeks ago, the Upper Darby School District, which is on the border of Philadelphia serving 12,000 students speaking more than 60 languages, unveiled its new budget. In it, the administration announced it plan to cut “art, music, library and gym into the elementary classrooms and eliminate foreign language and technology in middle schools and reduce the teaching staff by 60-plus members at a budget savings of $4 million,” according to the Delaware County Times.
Wow.
It boggles the mind, really. The first lady of the United States has made childhood obesity her main cause, and yet school districts still have no qualms cutting gym. Entertainment is probably one of our country's greatest exports, yet we’re going to cut art, music, and pretty much all creative thinking out of our curriculum.
And cutting the library? Seriously? It’s as if schools aren’t even trying to pretend that there is more to research than Wikipedia. Who needs books? Who needs reading for pleasure? Buy a laptop, that’s all a kid needs.
Thankfully, the Upper Darby community does not share the views of its school board. Parents, teachers, residents, and even Tina Fey (an Upper Darby alum) have spoken out asking for support and signatures to show the district, and the state, how important they feel the arts are to their students.
And so have many young adult authors.
I grew up down the road from Upper Darby in Ridley Township, PA. We played the Royals in sports. And I have a friend who teaches in one of the elementary schools that’s being hit with these cuts. This is a cause that’s close to my heart, and thankfully some of my author friends have joined in the fight.
Please watch our video. And if you support the arts in Upper Darby and you want to stop the snowball effect before these cuts become commonplace and reach a school near you, please sign the online petition  before the June 6th school board meeting. Thanks for your help! And thank you to all of the authors who tweeted and who submitted videos, especially: Elise Allen, Jessica Brody, Eileen Cook, Jenny O'Connell, Debbie Rigaud, and Melissa Walker.

1 Comments:

Blogger Debbie Rigaud said...

Thank you, Diana, for bringing awareness to this fight.

June 13, 2012 at 3:09 PM  

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