Art and War: Creativity and Youth in Action
Introducing 10YAC High School Blogger Stanley Kirshner Breen
$1,216,539,560,417 or — for those of you who are like me and can’t process numbers instantly in their head — one trillion, two hundred and sixteen billion, five hundred and thirty nine million, five hundred and sixty thousand, four hundred and seventeen dollars.
This is the total cost, and rising, of what America has spent on war in the past decade. I think that when
people see such a large number as this, they have a hard time connecting it to their lives. So I considered the most important things in my life.
As hard as it is to admit in the middle of summer, school is one of the most influential things in my life. I go to a Minneapolis public school, and the lack of money has been noticeable, mainly in class sizes. While my school has been lucky with funding, I know schools that are not. Schools in the poorer area of the
city have had their arts funding cut to where its basically nonexistent. This is terrible! Our taxes are being used to support violence and terror in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, yet America’s youth don’t have creative outlets in school.
Creative outlets provide students with healthy and innovative ways to express themselves. Many experts believe that art programs help low-income youth become more successful academically in high school.
While I am writing this, we (the state of Minnesota) are currently in a government shutdown. The Minnesota legislature wants to cut the funding of public services rather than increase taxes on the wealthy. Public school funding is being hit hard by this. Last year, $1.4 billion was cut from public school funding, and there is no plan to pay it back. This year, Minnesota politicians want to cut even more, targeting integration, special needs and children living in poverty. Schools are getting less and less money, and the first thing to go are the art programs.
Ten years ago, the U.S. Senate vote on initiating the war on Iraq was 77 for and 23 against. While the U.S. Senate supports the colossal spending on war, the elected officials in my state are opposed to giving schools the basic funding they need. This makes me think: What is our government teaching our society? That war is more important than knowledge? How can America count on a better future if our youth don’t have the tools to grow?
This fall I’m partnering with 10 Years + Counting, an organization that seeks to create something positive out of the devastative war, by connecting a community of people through art. At a time when the arts are being cut and much of our funding is going to war, the voice of students is needed more than ever.
Visit www.10yearsandcounting.org to learn of ways you can get involved.
Art engages students in a way that nothing else can. Art brings out creativity and allows students to view the world and approach problems in a completely unique way. Involvement with art increases concentration, motivation, confidence, and critical thinking, and expands the imagination. This is why art should be the backbone of any high school education.
I hope students across the country will get involved with 10YAC – and use creativity to imagine a world where education is more important than war.