Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Another Chance for Activism

OK, I know we're in tough economic times (just ask the clients who haven't paid me yet... grrr...) and that cuts may need to be made. However, this is not the place to do it.

The Oakland City Council may stop funding its Cultural Arts Program. The two programs I am familiar with are MOCHA (the Museum of Children's Art) and the Circus Theatre Program.

MOCHA has low cost field trips (that I mostly just paid for my own self rather than try to get them approved by the district) that are now often the only experience to art that kids have. Their teachers are artists who are respectful and experienced with children and can handle my students, which not everyone can. My kids have learned about the color wheel, made sculptures out of recycled objects, made books, and done many other art projects there. They love it and look forward to it and ask me when they can go back. In fact, I love it there too.

MOCHA has also started to create an art curriculum that goes along with the extremely rigid mandated reading program so that kids can actually learn art and their teachers still be in compliance with No Child Left Behind. I've only seen the kindergarten pilot program, which was a few years ago, but it was great.

The Circus Theatre is awesome. Fourth and fifth graders learn real circus arts including stilts, unicycle riding, juggling, and more. I have known several kids who only went to school (yes, fourth graders ditch school) in order to be in this program. It helps them stay in school. Just like anything else, we'll pay for it later if we don't pay for it now. I guarantee that it will be more expensive to keep these kids in juvenile hall and while it may sound like I'm catastrophizing, I really don't think I am. They need to keep this program.

Feel free to write and express your displeasure: (I'm happy to answer any questions you may have)

Oakland City Council
One City Hall
Oakland, CA 94612

The City Council members are here along with their email addresses.

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