Issue 1: Don’t cut the arts

Knight Writers Staff

When Hillsborough County Public schools announced anticipated budget cuts, it was no surprise to assume that arts programs would be first. A sliver of hope came through when Superintendent Davis assured that that would not happen until teachers began to get cut; some art teachers. Business is business, but there have to be better alternatives. Hillsborough County cannot cut its arts programs.

“The arts” doesn’t just refer to studio art. It covers band, orchestra, theatre, choir…the list goes on and on. An array of activities that countless students partake in, and honestly, would feel lost without. The arts are a release from the stress of a regular curriculum. Who isn’t relieved to go to class and play an instrument after a difficult test?

For a while, HCPS has made arts credits a requirement, which has encouraged kids to get involved in the arts. While some drop out of the class after earning the credit, many stay after having a memorable experience. Even when students drop out, it’s oftentimes due to a schedule conflict or an overwhelming course load. Just because not every student is involved in the arts doesn’t mean they’re not grateful for the opportunity. The county cannot keep that requirement and its implications if it cuts the arts; it just doesn’t make sense.

At a recent school board meeting, parents, teachers, and students advocate for the arts. No matter what they focus on, there is always a common theme: the arts bring people together. These programs give many students a group to be a part of a way to feel included and loved. Without them, many students feel lost, and mental health is bound to suffer. The county should not claim to be looking out for students’ mental health if they try to take away one of the only items that motivate many students to come to school.

Here in the newspaper, many of our staffers are or have been involved in the arts. It allows us to be connected with our school because whether you are involved or not, the arts’ presence brings people together. Friends make plans out of seeing their peers perform and going to their art shows.

The schools themselves rely on the arts more than they expect. Without a band, who plays at the football games? Without orchestra, who plays at graduation? Without art classes, how can creative students who may not have the resources to paint and draw access materials? The list of examples ends here because we all know that this list could go on and on.

Cutting the arts doesn’t only impact the students. All the art teachers we have encountered have been experienced and ready to help their students. There’s a reason why elective-specifically arts-classes are more memorable to students; those teachers are irreplaceable. Not saying that core curriculum teachers aren’t because every teacher plays an important role. In this case, though, we need to stand up for art teachers. They give so much and shouldn’t be let down this way.

We acknowledge that we are not well-versed in educational policy. We don’t know what goes into the finances of running a school district, but this cannot be the only way to combat budget cuts. Much like people come together over the arts, they can, and they will come together to fight for them.