Opinion

Published on October 3rd, 2017 | by Andrew Wright

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What’s missing on the balance sheets?

Samo is a school that prides itself on having students pursue all fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM), but the arts barely gets put into consideration. The budget is low, the support is abysmal and it is almost treated as a dump.The arts are just as important as any other program and has and continues to contribute to developed society in many ways, and the disrespect that schools in general give it is absolutely unacceptable.

Art at Samo has been operating on limited funds for the majority of its life. With this year’s budget of $340 per class, per semester, this rounds out to be $17 a week for supplies for approximately 30 students per class, or $11.33 per student for a semester, 20 weeks, of art supplies. The cost of one quart of Blick acrylic paint is about $8, and buying firing clay in bulk costs almost $20, but unlike textbooks, these learning materials are consumable. How can you expect to get the same result that you would get from a full and relevant history textbook, from an old one that’s pages fall out every day? You can’t, which is exactly like making a work of art with limited materials. You can’t get the same result.

Art teacher Amy Bouse explains how the materials in art are different than those in other subjects.

“In studio art classes, art materials are our textbooks; we need them for instruction,” Bouse said.

And that opinion is absolutely undervalued. The art departments in general including its materials are undervalued, and because of this so many art teachers have rough times getting funding, and even teaching becomes a challenge.

As you can see, the Art Department’s budget doesn’t last long enough to fully support a strong art class. Thanks to the donations from parent-funded foundations like the Santa Monica Malibu Education Foundation (SMMEF) and the Santa Monica Arts Parents Association (SMAPA) the Art Department is able to function. These foundations are vital to the survival of not only our visual arts classes, but also our dance, drama and music departments at Samo. Still, this isn’t enough for the teachers to have what they need, so they are looking to new ways of funding.

If you go to Bouse’s website http://www.samohi.smmusd.org/art/ you will see Blick and Amazon wishlists, as well as a tab on how to support the art classes.

“I have an Amazon wishlist, I write grants and it’s sort of embarrassing,” Bouse said.

Bouse, like other art teachers, at the beginning of the year gives a form to each student stating what the budget is, how much materials cost and asking for donations of money or materials. As we know, teachers don’t get paid very much and often have to use their own money to buy supplies at the beginning of the school year. Why should any teacher have to pay for their own supplies, and why should we put them in an awkward situation to support a class for the students at this school? It plainly doesn’t make sense, and the schools should provide more.

“With more funding to the art department, there will be more possibilities for creativity and relaxation through art. I believe this is very important for the Samo community because of how amazing the art community is,” ceramics student Cristina Zoldi (’20) said.

The many art programs at Samo have the potential to develop well-rounded and critically thinking students. The skills that are taught in these classes can help students to become innovators of new ideas, something our country needs to stay competitive in today’s global market. These budgets must be supported to stay relevant with other programs.

Think of it this way; imagine a bridge. Samo’s art departments design the bridge, construct the bridge and continue to improve the bridge. The other departments within Samo use the bridge to get from one place to another. Without the bridge the rest of the departments can’t move forward.

If Samo truly values these fields, it needs to support them financially and publicly equal to the other subjects. After all without “A” we wouldn’t have any STEAM to power the future of Samo students, we would just have STEM and that doesn’t power anything.

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