EDITORIAL: Bravo, but there is more to do

Come September, elementary school children in the Burbank Unified School District will start getting eduction in the arts again.

Bravo. This is a crucial element of a well-rounded education, one that has been missing for years now.

Burbank Unified is putting arts back into its core curriculum with Arts for All, a 10-year strategic plan to bring back the arts.

The district will hire a specialist who will begin instructing teachers in August on how to incorporate first the visual arts ? such as painting and drawing ? into the classroom routine.

This is a laudable first step. But it is a difficult one, considering that despite an influx of state funding for the upcoming year, no money is coming from the state for it. The program is being funded by a combination of grants and district funds. That makes its future and growth tenuous.

Most adults can remember having art class, music class, gym class, maybe even a library hour. But for years California public schools have been depriving students of that opportunity.

Those classes were an opportunity for tactile and visual learning. They were an opportunity for students to shine who were perhaps not as strong in regular academics.

Sure they were often fun, but that didn't mean they were not valuable. For some, they may have led to a lifetime of art appreciation or a career as an artist. For others maybe they just helped students with their fine motor skills or to learn special relationships. At the very least they were a reprieve from the normal classroom routine.

And therein lies the only problem with Burbank Unified's plan. Incorporating arts in the classroom is a positive step, just as squeezing physical activity back into children's school day by having classroom teachers incorporate it was. But we are taking teachers' focus away from their jobs, and making them be everything to these students.

The eventual goal must be a return of these art, gym and music classes outside the regular classroom. Children are getting fatter and more unhealthy and the arts are becoming more neglected. This is detrimental to students and to our society.

So bravo to Burbank Unified and all those who toiled on the 10-year plan. You are headed in the right direction ? forge ahead.

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