Someone just sent me a terrific holiday gift–children who are students at CICS Longwood School in Chicago singing with their hearts lifted. It was a real treat, but stirred mixed feelings for me.
While CICS Longwood provides this enrichment in the Arts, it is like so many other public and public charter schools in America. Far too many experiences in the Arts–especially in Music–have been relegated to extra-curricular and after-school. These decisions are largely due to expected crunches in time and funding. When we decided to attack our national record of unacceptable achievement gaps, especially in Reading and Mathematics, we dropped all or most commitments to the Arts in most all schools everywhere.
What we have neglected is the significant complement to core academics that the Arts can and do provide (when taught rigorously and as part of an academic program). We know what rich and rigorous musical training can do for the cognitive capacity of all students in their work in other core subject areas.
Great schools such as CICS Longwood must determine a way to provide rigorous Arts programs for more of its students. Their quality of life and their academic potential depend on it.
P.S. Still, I loved that recording of students singing with their hearts high.