States should not cut into arts, athletics to save education budgets.

My original plan was to write a rather nuanced column about why Oklahoma was facing a budget shortfall. I did my research since I’m a bit of a policy wonk.

I read legislative bills and court decisions to gain a better understanding and the implications both will have on the lives of others.

I read articles about taxes and drilling dating back a few years to get a handle when folks started to see this crisis. The legislators did nothing to stop it.

Oklahoma now faces big budget cuts in public education. The worse part about this, while all the articles I read dealt with the pros and cons of the tax cuts and why they were needed at the time and why they are still needed, not one line about how the kids are going suffer because of this.

Schools facing budget shortfalls are having to cut staff, shorter school weeks and even cut some activities. Not just sports, but the arts as well are being cut from the curriculum.

I’m sure some are saying… so what?

Athletics and art are far more important in the long run than the basic academics.

Leonardo da Vinci is one of my favorite Renaissance artists. However, he was much more than an artist. He explored the natural world and was fascinated by science (before it was actual science). He was a horseback rider (and a pretty good one at that according to some accounts). To top it off he was an accomplished musician (and even designed and constructed his own musical instruments.)

I want to be Leonardo da Vinci. My artistic skills are rather subpar, but I think my art lies more in writing, and art can also be dance or speaking (oratory) or performance (theater). I appreciate and respect art. I am grateful for all the art teachers I had when I was growing up. What I learned and the skills I picked up then, still help me today.

I’m fascinated by science. I will read articles about black holes, quantum physics, and even microbiology. I do martial arts (got my black belt back in June) and I can play the violin. My mom got me a guitar a while back, so I’m still anxious to learn how to play that as well.

Da Vinci was also a vegetarian, but I’m not quite ready to make the leap which will cause me to give up on cheeseburgers.

Baby steps here.

A Renaissance man (or woman) is someone who can encompass art, science, athletics and music. When you start taking those things away, our kids lose the richness of human achievement. They lose the chance to be inspired to achieve something great because some adults think somehow the education of kids is worth less than a company saving millions of dollars.

If schools and state governments were serious about saving money, how about we spend less on standardized tests?

Arkansas isn’t immune. Our great state has some public education issues. Mostly stemming from narrow-minded clowns who only think for themselves and their inability to confront their own biases and prejudices. Those people shouldn’t be in charge of anything. They help no one but themselves.

We’re better than this. We can do better than this. We should make the education of our children the most important thing… not just the reading and writing, but give them art, let them explore science, teach them the skills to keep themselves active and physically fit and let them listen to music.

A little Tchaikovsky and Credence Clearwater Revival is good for the soul.