Archived Opinion

Schools need funds to grow creative thinkers

Schools need funds to grow creative thinkers

By Sandra Hayes • Guest Columnist | I volunteer with QuickDraw of WNC, an art auction where artists step up to help put supplies on classroom shelves in our public schools. We’re raising money right now.

Why? Because the school system is in pain. With state legislative cuts, art and other supply funds have shriveled. 

QuickDraw’s local fundraiser launched 20 years ago to supplement class supplies to help kids learn more. It funded projects from 3-D clay stamping tools, nontoxic stained glass for architectural study, batik fabric dyes, and other projects to expand student learning.

These days, we — an outside citizen fundraiser – are also a basic supplies budget, funding ordinary items like scissors and glue. 

Some Haywood County art teachers cover three schools. Budget cuts forced some counties to axe school art programs altogether. We’re trying to save ours. Kids in every county deserve the same.

Supplies are for learning. Take one elementary school — that’s 1,000 kids a week in the art room, 1,000 pieces of paper to draw on, and 1,000 hands that need a crayon, brush or colored pencil. 

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Kids don’t get the resources they need and deserve. That’s why we have bake sales and QuickDraw, to put critical funds where they were lost. It’s not enough.

Compare legislative funding 10 years back, adjust for inflation and enrollment, and schools get less than half the money they got 10 years ago, a 56 percent cut. Schools need supplies if we want to grow resourceful thinkers and problem-solvers, the kind we all want to hire. Make students a priority, they are our state’s future.

 

Legislators late for school

The state legislature has not yet provided an education budget proposal to fund our public schools for a fiscal year that starts July 1. This is mandated by the N.C. State Supreme Court, and yet it still doesn’t exist. What kind of future can we build for North Carolina without education?

Art is an important problem-solving curriculum. Art ed teaches the whole child. It’s a class kids look forward to and it helps students stay in school. 

Let’s prioritize students so they can graduate and succeed. 

Art teachers spend dollars from their own pockets for their students. I asked Haywood teachers what’s the most they’ve personally spent in a year and one art teacher spent $350, another $800, another $1,500. Our teachers are paid $10,000 less than the national average. This is not sustainable.

Let’s prioritize students, so they can learn with supplies they need.

 

Art creates problem solvers

Creativity is more than making art, it helps all other aspects of problem solving. Art class ties together other subjects. If kids have it tough at home, art class is a haven and a respite.

Classrooms need better funding to make impactful thinkers of our students. Our students are our state’s future. Please, help our students learn safely and well, with creativity. Prioritize students, fund education. Invest now and let’s reap the benefits for our state’s future!

Why is school funding so poor? Legislators used to give 40 percent of education lottery funds to schools, now we get 11 percent. Our legislators want to entice companies to move here by dropping the state corporate tax rate to 0 percent. What that means is fewer tax dollars generated and less money for schools.

To be industry-competitive, we need to offer employees who can solve problems in many areas, using their skills in analytics, business and design thinking. Business needs creative problem solvers and innovators. 

I ask the General Assembly: where do you think that talent comes from? Do you think it springs up suddenly when a person turns 21? Creativity needs nurturing in our children, because creativity leads to confidence, which leads to innovation, which is what companies look for. 

It stings to realize that our state representatives choose cut after cut after cut in education — when the future of our state’s thinkers, our students — is at stake. Will you all please consider the long-term effects of short-term thinking? 

Please, representatives, put your money where your youth is. Prioritize education.

Legislators, getting the corporate tax rate down to zero is creating a race to the bottom. When the corporate tax rate is zero and companies are not moving to North Carolina, what will be your excuse then? 

(Sandra Hayes is a volunteer with QuickDrawofWNC, a nonprofit whose mission is to highlight the importance of art education in the classroom. Buy art for education at  https://wnc-quick-draw.myshopify.com from June 1-30, and donate all year at https://quickdrawofwnc.com. For information call 828.734.5747.)

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1 comment

  • I have a great idea. Why don't they stop funding Critical Race Theory nonsense and earmark more funds for arts eduction?

    posted by Joseph Creighton

    Wednesday, 06/16/2021

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