Opinion: Don't Underestimate the Empowerment of an Arts Education

Marion Herbert's picture
Monday, November 14, 2011

The No Child Left Behind Act drove schools to slash programs that don't directly contribute to the goal of higher achievement in reading and math. The technology revolution, with its emphasis on math and science, has further pushed us to prioritize those disciplines.

Neither bodes well for arts education. In an era of shrinking public resources, creative classes like theater and writing are systematically cut from schools throughout our city and across the nation. As directors of two youth-based arts organizations, we know firsthand what it means for young people to practice creativity.

One organization, 826 Seattle, offers free writing workshops and after-school support to young people, helping them discover and tell their stories with help from trained adult tutors. Many of our students, like Meron Kasahun, come from low-income families.

The daughter of Ethiopian immigrants, Meron arrived at 826 Seattle as an eighth-grader who was struggling in school. Four years later, she has dramatically improved her writing skills and is a confident young woman who plays in the Ballard High orchestra, traveled on full scholarship to a student exchange in Chile, and is busy applying for college. Meron credits her success primarily to her years at 826 Seattle.

Read more