Letter from the Parent Advocacy Network:
Dear Parents and supporters of the arts
On Wednesday, April 13, in the midst of the largest budget deficit in decades, PAN will be presenting a plea for a renewed vision and commitment from the VSB to restoring a comprehensive arts education for all children in elementary Vancouver.
The arts are essential to the intellectual and social emotional development of young children and to the health of our future society. They are also part of the BC curriculum and central to the core competencies that form the underlying framework of the new curriculum (critical thinking, communication and cultural identity). Given that participation in the arts for children and youth is also shown to significantly improve outcomes for disadvantaged children and youth in academic success, employment and civic engagement, the loss of arts from schools is also a matter of social justice. All children need and deserve education in the arts to enable them to develop their full potential.
Over the last two decades, the arts have been decimated through loss of district staffing, specialist teachers and resources. Only half of elementary schools have music teachers, only 2 have art teachers. Arts programs are now largely sustained through private donation or PAC fundraising which creates inequalities of access between schools. This years budget will see the loss of the last Fine arts district staff person and therefore the loss of all arts enrichment programs – which for many children are their only exposure to the arts. And finally, the few remaining arts spaces utilized in the district threaten to be eliminated under the ministry’s 95% capacity mandate to rationalize schools.
While we fully acknowledge the fiscal constraints of the district, we are asking trustees to commit to re-prioritizing arts education within Vancouver Schools as part of their 5 year strategic plan. To this end we are hosting a roundtable think tank drawing on arts experts across educational and civic communities to begin a creative conversation and think of ways we can sustainably work together to ensure all Vancouver children have access to a quality arts education as part of their elementary schooling.
We invite you to show your support for this motion by attending the public presentation at Committee III of the Vancouver School Board on Wednesday, April 13 at 5pm.
A large number of attendees gives a visible indication of parent priorities. There may also be opportunity to speak with trustees. If you are unable to attend we encourage you to write to the parent advocacy network and/or your trustee and express your concerns for the loss of the arts within Vancouver public schools.