The following article, "Creating 21st Century Workforce" seems quite applicable to our community. Would you please print it in your newspaper?
Arts education is a cost-effective way to help build the workforce of tomorrow, according to an issue brief produced by the National Governors Association (NGA). The report, "The Impact of Arts Education on Workforce Preparation," provides examples of how arts-based education can build skills, increase academic success and lower the incidence of juvenile crime. It offers examples from states that are already using the arts in education and after-school programs, as well as policy recommendations for states looking for innovative and cost-effective ways to produce successful students and productive employees.
Prepared by the NGA's Center for Best Practices, which provides governors with innovative ideas and examples of excellence in state government the document addresses one of the key issues for states: the importance of human capital to an area's economic vitality. According to the report, today's challenging workplace demands academic credentials as well as fewer tangible assets, including flexibility, highly developed interpersonal skills and problem-solving ability.
"'A creative approach to learning improves performance in the classroom and build the self esteem of our children,' said Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman chair of NGA's Economic Development and Commerce Committee. 'If you look into the faces of children who are involved in a creative activity, you will see their enthusiasm for learning and their pride in being part of a creative experience. for states to be competitive, an educated and well-trained workforce is a primary ingredient for a vibrant economy. Research suggests that education in the arts provides a distinct advantage, reinforcing multiple skills that connect learning to real work.'"
The report cites multiple research studies showing the positive effects of arts education on student learning, school attendance, communications abilities and higher-order thinking skills.
"'The NGA brief underscores the positive effect that arts education can have on preparing the children and youth for success in the workforce,' said Eileen B. Mason, acting chairman of the National Endowments for the Arts. 'In addition to contributing cognitive, emotional and social development, participation in the arts gives children an appreciation for the skill, discipline and sacrifice necessary for achievement.'
"'Governors and states have been extremely innovative in using the arts to meet their state's educational goals. The arts are a proven solution in creating a learning environment that engages students, including those who are at risk, and prepares them to be productive participants in tomorrow's economy,' says Jonathan Katz, CEO of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies.
"Among the policy actions for governors recommended by the brief are the following:
* Facilitate the interaction between governors' education policy advisors, economic development leaders and school leadership - especially in those areas with high numbers of at-risk youth. A state's top arts and culture officers can act as resources in these interactions.
* Leverage the willingness of the private sector to contribute to the arts by providing seed funding and starter grants to innovative arts-based education programs."
Private sector contributions in the Bootheel are so very important in keeping the arts alive and vibrant. We as a society must take control of our communities and strive for excellence in the fine arts in and outside of school. It will take money, commitment from many, and hard work. But aren't our children worth it? We must give them a choice - a creative alternative.
Linda Melkersman, vice presidentSikeston Missouri Arts (SMARTS) and NMCC High School art instructor