Ugly cut

Published 7:00 pm Friday, May 28, 2010

It’s not on the CRCT, the tests that measure how much children have learned during their school years, and the tests many think now shape how most classroom time is spent.

It’s not on the SAT or the ACT. Those are geared toward English, reading and math.

It’s not the kind of curriculum that makes Decatur County, Georgia or the United States a powerhouse of intellect. That’s for the math and science curriculums.

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But what it is, is our individual and collective reflections of ourselves.

It’s art.

It’s the appreciation of a talent that may have been cultivated since toddler years. Or it’s an experience of music, paintings or other art forms that move us or inspire us well into our golden years.

Bainbridge and Decatur County have had a history of thinking ahead with one of the most notable endeavors in art education. Riverside Artsfest brought an array of art programs into the schools.

There were literary and art contests for all school-aged children as well as performances brought into the schools that could span a rainbow—from native American dances and lectures to trips to the Firehouse Gallery to view the artworks of hundreds of talented artists from throughout the country.

Artsfest at its zenith complemented the arts program in the public school system. The impact can’t be measured, but it must have been positive.

Now, the pendulum has swung.

The Decatur County Board of Education—in its desire to save $104,642 out of an approximate $38 million budget—cut the elementary school arts programs.

The art programs at the elementary schools were taught by paraprofessionals and it measured less than 0.2 percent of the total budget.

What a short-sighted cut that seems to put blinders on young minds, rather than open them to self expression.

We understand the tough budget the Board of Education is wrestling with.

But what an ugly cut—one that may have scars in the coming years.