One of the most common debates to hear about public education is where funding goes, particularly when art and music programs get cut.
A lot of schools end up in tough spots when it comes to budget slashes and funding decisions, and certain types of programs end up under a microscope in terms of their value to education.
A Brookings Institute study found that students in a control group who were provided arts experiences had a 3.6 percentage point reduction in disciplinary infractions, an improvement of 13% of a standard deviation in standardized writing scores and showed an increase in compassion for others involving wanting to help people and having more of an interest in other people and their feelings. An Education Week study found similar results, showing that cultural or artistic experiences improve student knowledge about the arts, as well as desire to become cultural consumers in the future.
Harrisonburg City Schools students have a chance to reap all of those benefits and likely more through the expansion the popular summer enrichment program and a new offshoot called the Art Institute, according to an article in Thursday's edition of the Daily News-Record.
In conjunction with the Summer Enrichment Program, the Arts Institute offers students opportunities in music, dance, drama and visual art, according to the article. And more than 500 students from city and county schools are getting a chance to take part in these opportunities.
We commend Harrisonburg City Schools for taking on this expansion and hope officials get the support needed to continue this and similar offerings in the future. Every child is an individual and can benefit from diverse learning opportunities and exposure to the arts.
Some of the children who attend the Art Institute may discover a passion or skill set they may never have experienced otherwise. Finding that passion and having artistic experiences can and likely will strengthen their other educational endeavors.