Education Cuts Impact Our Neighborhood & The Arts

You may or may not have known that Greiner Middle School (located at the corner of Edgefield and 12th) is also home to the DISD magnet ‘Exploratory Arts Academy’, which according to the Greiner website “provides opportunities for qualifying students who have an interest in the fine arts and who wish to develop their individual artistic talents. Instructors at the academy offer students professional expertise in the area of their interests”.

As a part of the State of Texas budget crisis it would appear that educational funding is a prime target to keep the state from having to raise taxes or cut other costs. We’ve asked Winnetka Heights resident and proud father of a Greiner 6th Grader, Paul Semrad, to help educate us about the impact these cuts will have on Greiner and the arts education in DISD. (He’s also a talented musician in his own right, and is an active supporter of the arts in Dallas.)

Here’s what Paul has to say:

It may already be too late. W. E. Greiner Exploratory Arts Academy is facing the loss of half of it’s nine Arts Academy teachers in today’s DISD board meeting at 5:30pm. This should matter to you. Not just you who that have children at Greiner and not just people in Oak Cliff, but everyone who has a stake in the future of Dallas.

There are volumes that could be written about the inadequacy of our education system, but there just isn’t time for that. In just a few hours a solid portion of what keeps Greiner from being just another DISD tragedy will be severed. Sure the school is not perfect but how are these cuts going to help?

It is truly a sad truth that when money tightens up the first thing to go is arts education. I know that there is some opinion that the arts are a frivolous (or elitist) distraction. We need to stick to the basics, readin’ writin’ and ‘rithmatic (as well as using a no. 2 pencil on those Scantron sheets). But the truth is that Arts Education is part of the basics. According to the United States Department of Education, “The arts are essential to every child’s education, which is why the arts are one of the core academic subjects in the No Child Left Behind Act.” Art is more than playing a nice song and painting a pretty picture. It is the basis of culture and any sociologist will tell you that culture is defined as the communication of ideas and the development of intellectual function in a society. Art teaches more than Sousa Marches and Cubism. It teaches reasoning, teamwork, critical thinking and probably most importantly, self-esteem. Even to the students who are not enrolled in the actual arts program at Greiner receive the benefit of these aspects of arts education through the example set by their peers.

Proud dad Paul Semrad with his daughter Eva.

Tuesday night, at the end-of-the-year band concert, my mother, who came in from Fort Worth to see her grand-daughter perform, and I were talking about the impossible dedication that the academy teachers must have to put in the kind of hours that it takes to serve our children. Is eliminating their positions actually the best reward for this dedication? Please, if you can, join us today at 5:30pm at the DISD offices (3700 Ross Ave) for a rally in support of the Greiner Arts Academy. If not, then please do email, write, telephone and harangue the DISD Board members and your State and Federal representatives.