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Schools, students losing their creativity

July 17, 2005|by DAVID BUSSARD

America is in the midst of a drought of epic proportions.

Across the country, well-springs are drying up. The harvest that every American contributes to - one initially of growth and stability - is simply dying out. And yet, you cannot see this drought. It is within each and every student of a public school, impacted by President Bush's reckless budget cuts. Their very creative essence is falling into disrepair beneath the weight of a $419.3 billion defense budget.

So, with creativity dwindling in America's high schools, one would think that President Bush would be putting forth more programs to inspire the next generation of artists, musicians and writers, as well as well-rounded individuals. However, in his budget for 2006, President Bush proposed several severe cuts in education funding, specifically for art programs. In all, the president would eliminate 48 education programs. The president plans to terminate programs such as the National Writing Project and Arts in Education. Ironically Bush, who is known for his No Child Left Behind Act, even proposed terminating the dropout prevention programs in public schools.

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Many Republicans are even against his drastic cuts, especially those in education. Referring to one public school program that is slated to be terminated, Ohio Sen. Mike DeWine said "It does a lot of good, it reaches out to young people."

And that's exactly what President Bush needs to do, reach out to young people. The Tri-State can be somewhat deceiving due to its ingrown conservatism, but less than half of younger voters in the country support the president. My generation sees a president of paradoxes. He is the champion of education reform, yet he cuts funding drastically. This is not just an issue for the youth of this country, it is one that impacts all ages. As hackneyed or cliche as it may sound, my generation really is the future of this country. What kind of future will it be with such lax education standards?

There is no demand for creativity or challenge today, and that is being acknowledged by the government. Last year, in my Advanced Placement English class at Clear Spring High School, I remember an assignment that made everyone cringe. Well, almost everyone.

We were asked to write sonnets, in iambic pentameter. Many people complained, but I simply sat there smiling at the prospect. Are these really the future leaders of our country? People baffled by writing a sonnet? The driving force that made the United States the country it is today is creativity, and now we are resting on the laurels we have made. This needs to change.

I am not one of those people who blames the government for all of the ills and afflictions of this country. Instead, I think that students must show an initiative to reform their own education process. And the educators as well. Some teachers are even paying for art supplies out of their own pockets, just so that their classes can enjoy the benefits of a diverse and varied education. If that is what is needed, then so be it. However, everyone should be aware of the impending education drought that looms above us all.

And, all the while, President Bush continues to direct the figurative irrigation pipes of monetary influence toward Iraq, where very little progress has occurred. Educating the youth of America is obviously less important to the president than a war that has done little more than break apart the unity of this country. After all, the ignorant never rise.

It is well known that with a solid art program, or something that requires a student to create, students are more likely to perform proficiently in other areas, such as math and science.

These ideas exist in practice at many private schools and universities, including the college I will be attending in the fall. So, in order to truly leave no student behind, the president should re-examine his philosophy of cut-and-spend economics and explore a liberal arts-based education. Without art or writing programs in public schools, many students will lose their outlets of creative expression and fall back on the mind-numbing aspects of pop culture, such as television and visits to the mall.

Thankfully, I have already graduated from high school and will not have to bear the brunt of President Bush's budget cuts. However, if I were just entering high school, I would grab my school voucher and head for private school.

David Bussard is a Clear Spring
resident who writes for
The Herald-Mail.

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