Can D.C. Schools Afford Art, Music, and PE?

July 24, 2008 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

For years, arts education advocates have been pushing for restoring programs in schools hampered by budgets and curriculum plans that tend to marginalize those subjects. So when D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee promised art, music, and PE teachers in every school, she won widespread praise from those advocates, as well as from teachers and parents.

But a study released by a consortium of D.C. organizations this week claims that the plan—which is based on a new funding formula—would create budget disparities between the city’s disadvantaged schools and better-off ones, such as “teacher shortages, large class-sizes, and per-pupil funding gaps,” according to this Washington Post story.

Last month, this D.C. teacher blogger talked about the challenges she expects to face as a result of the new funding formula. Yet she cheers the changes.

“But I am okay with these drawbacks if it means that my students will have art, music, and PE,” she writes.

In this column over at the Arts Journal, Richard Kessler calls the unusual turn a kind of “bizarro world of education,” referring to a comic-book planet ruled by a code opposite that of our own.

With urban school officials putting money behind subjects that have long been sidelined, and public education activists questioning the move, he writes, the tables seem to have turned.

“Us do opposite of all Earthly things! Us hate beauty!,” the bizarro code states. “Us love ugliness! Is big crime to make anything perfect on Bizarro World!”

I don’t think anyone would call Rhee’s plan perfect, but other big, urban districts—including New York City and Los Angeles—have been working hard to sustain their arts programs. And now the growing public concern over childhood obesity is generating new attention to physical education.

I guess the question is how essential are these programs to providing comprehensive and equitable schooling to all students, and how far are districts willing to go to pay and support them.

Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.


Student Well-Being K-12 Essentials Forum Boosting Student and Staff Mental Health: What Schools Can Do
Join this free virtual event based on recent reporting on student and staff mental health challenges and how schools have responded.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Curriculum Webinar
Practical Methods for Integrating Computer Science into Core Curriculum
Dive into insights on integrating computer science into core curricula with expert tips and practical strategies to empower students at every grade level.
Content provided by

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: October 11, 2023
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: September 27, 2023
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated: September 20, 2023
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education From Our Research Center What's on the Minds of Educators, in Charts
Politics, gender equity, and technology—how teachers and administrators say these issues are affecting the field.
1 min read
Stylized illustration of a pie chart
Traci Daberko for Education Week