Learn from the Lorax

March is Arts Education Month, today is Dr. Seuss’ birthday, and this weekend is the opening weekend of the new movie, “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax” – three cheerful events I’ve been looking forward to sharing with my family.  ‘Course, thinking about The Lorax has reminded me of those words of wisdom uttered by the Once-ler in this storybook from my childhood,

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It’s not.”

The Lorax teaches us that we all have a responsibility, both collectively and individually, to take care of and protect the things we value.  Nature, children, the arts – our lists are individual, but we have this responsibility in common.  The Arts Room speaks for the arts, in our schools, in our community, in our lives.  Like the trees, the arts don’t have a voice of their own.  They need people like you and me to stand up for them and speak on their behalf, preferably before they are threatened.

March is also budget season for our school district, and we all know that our district is still at the beginning of a decade of difficult state funding cuts.  The Joint Finance Committee will hold a public meeting at some point this month to hear the school department’s budget request and determine the amount they will allow for the coming 2012-2013 school year.  Last year I attended the JFC meetings along with many other people, in an attempt to persuade the members to approve the full budget request made by the school department.  The experience made it clear to me that the current membership of the Joint Finance Committee, IN MY OPINION, is not interested in making education a top priority in our community.

It is after this year’s JFC meeting that the difficult decisions, if there are to be any, will be made.  It is also after this meeting that those of us who speak for the arts can do our part to make sure our schools reflect the educational experience we want our children to have.  By attending and respectfully participating in Budget Subcommittee meetings and School Committee meetings, and by meeting with Superintendent Melinda Thies and Assistant Superintendent Mario Andrade, we can remind the decision-makers why we value the arts in education and what we want our children’s education to include, moving forward.

Here are five more things we can do this March to celebrate Arts Education Month:

  1. ask your child’s Art and Music teachers what you can do to help them with a school project, program or event this year.
  2. buy a ticket to the Bodacious Bee on March 10th, or make a donation to the Bristol Warren Education Foundation if you’re busy on the 10th, and support the BWEF’s grant-making efforts, many of which fund arts-focused projects in our public schools.
  3. bring your children, or your grandchildren, or your nieces, nephews, or neighbors to see the KMS Masquers production of “Into the Woods, Jr.” on March 16th – 18th, and to The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon at MHHS on March 17th.
  4. subscribe to The Arts Room, like us on Facebook, and let us know about arts happenings in our local public schools.
  5. read with your children – read Dr. Seuss with your little ones (he wrote more than 40 children’s books, enough to read one each night of March and then some), read whatever your middle-schoolers are reading in class, start a book club night with your older teens – story lies at the heart of all the arts, and one of the greatest gifts we can give our children is a lifelong love of story!

Happy birthday, T.S.G.

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