I attended an information session last night at our local middle school on “Our Children and Gangs.” The information was presented by the Bethlehem Area School District and the Bethlehem 222 Anti-Gang Task Force.
One thing I heard; “We need to keep the kids engaged after school. We need to provide these kids a sense of belonging. We need to give them opportunities to develop self-confidence.”
That makes sense. But what doesn’t make sense – if these are the recommendations of anti-gang task force, why is the school district, and other government based funding decisions CUTTING THE ARTS???
How many more surveys and studies do we have to do that demonstrate this in the ARTS?
Maybe a cost analysis is needed. What is the cost difference between arts programs, and incarceration? When and how do we act on nurturing these kids, instead of expecting future crime?
I keep hearing about how we shouldn’t be passing debt to our children and grand-children. What debt would it be if we burden our children with a gang problem?
Why do I care? I have kids. What I heard last night scares me to death.
I also provide and support arts programs in the schools. Lehigh University is working to provide more. One sensible solution is to set up mentoring programs with the university students who could teach dance, music, spoken word, visual arts, creative writing, etc. University students would share their passions (vocation or avocation) with local students; an excellent model of community service. This idea would still require funding to have adult/trained supervisors oversee the program; costs of supplies, artist fees if we could also partner with local arts organizations. Can this happen without funding? No.
What would really make sense – is if the federal, state, local governments, and our school boards would get funding priorities straight. Granted, I know there are challenges. But let us not all miss the forest for the trees.