SchoolArts Magazine

DEC 2008

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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Point of View Addressing the Achievement Gap through Art Claire Simanski N o Child Left Behind (NCLB) has changed the face of education in America. Now that the law is coming up for renewal, it is time to deal with the problems and inequities it has created. First, whatever the outcome, the law has to be fully funded. Without the proper funds, we cannot carry out the intent of the law. Quality education costs money. Millions of Learning takes place when students look at, discuss, and make art. dollars have been targeted to finance research on the most effective methods of classroom teaching, money to be addressed. Ideally, every child that could have been spent on reducaccommodate their learning styles or should be ready for school when the ing class size, which has been proven particular needs. For the new immitime comes. Television and computto close the achievement gap. grant, the arts offer a practical way of ers are not a substitute for interaction Emphasis has been placed on the entering our society. In the artroom, with parents. More time and money teacher as the main cause for the any child can succeed as images and needs to be spent on identifying and achievement gap. Training, placeexamples can take the place of words. helping at-risk children from birth to ments, guidelines, professional learnMany immigrant children with no age five. ing communities, exchange of ideas, English skills have not only done well and close scrutiny of credentials in the artroom, but have gained conDisciplinary Challenges have all placed a great deal of stress fidence in using English, made new Time is always a problem for teachon teachers. Yet, NCLB has failed friends, and learned that they have ers—time to work out methods and to notice that there are two other art skills that can gain them future new approaches factors at work employment in this country. They besides schools and In the artroom any child that that could help. see that art from their own country Yet no one teacher teachers. We must is respected here and understand that can succeed as images or team of teachaddress the other they do fit in as well. and examples can take ers can provide two parts of the the place of words. the answer for all education problem Closing the Gap problems. Students in this country: the There is an achievement gap in this and parents must be ready for what student and the parent. country that needs to be closed or is expected of them. Students must narrowed, so we can maintain our understand that education leads to Social Challenges standard of living, solve ecological productivity in later life. Parents need Unfortunately, the achievement problems, find new sources for power, to parent so teachers can spend less gap starts long before a child enters and pull ahead in the twenty-first time disciplining. school. It may even start before the century. Through art, we can make it child is conceived. High-risk pregnanwork. Cultural Challenges cies, low birth weights, parents with Claire Simanski is an art teacher at HernChildren from other cultures learn addictions, and unhealthy surrounddon Middle School in Herndon, Virginia. in different ways, and we are not difings are plentiful in our country. Simanksi@fcps.edu ferentiating instruction enough to These are social problems that need 12 December 2008 SchoolArts

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