The obvious is worth repeating: Education is about more than passing the AIMS test. I said this bold in my April, 2005 e-newsletter to Arizona's educators, and I stand by it. Education is for three major purposes:
1. Preparing students to be productive members of society, including skills needed for employment.
2. Preparing students to be informed citizens.
3. Preparing students to be human beings who can understand the deeper forms of beauty brought to us by literature and the arts.
One unfortunate, unintended consequence of the testing culture has been that some schools focus on the subjects tested -- reading, writing and mathematics -- to the exclusion of other vital subjects, including science, social studies and the arts. School districts must offer a comprehensive curriculum including the arts to Arizona's students. Besides being required under state law, it's what's good for kids and what creates great citizens for Arizona's future.
To the School Board members and school administrators in and around Payson: I served on a School Board in the Phoenix area for 24 years, and I know it is tough to balance budgets and serve students with a well-rounded curriculum. But you can do this and keep music and art in the schools. Need help? Contact the AZ Department of Education. I reinstated the position of Arts Education Specialist to help districts find solutions -- call her (Lynn Tuttle) and see what you can learn. We are here to help you and share the creative solutions we find everyday for funding art and music from across the state.
To the parents and community members in and around Payson: If you believe in a comprehensive curriculum including art and music, please get involved, attend school board meetings, meet with your administration and lend your ideas and energy to the school budgeting process. And continue the wonderful work you are doing of raising additional funds to help out your schools using the Credit for Kids tax credit program.
I'd like to end with one of my favorite questions from a letter John Adams wrote to his wife:
"I study war and politics so that my children can study business and commerce, so that their children can study literature and the arts." I think this tells us something about what life is all about.
Tom Horne, Superintendent of Public Instruction