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Abigail Stowe-Thurston: Proposed school cuts rob spring of its hope

To the editor:

As March budget meetings once again threaten to endanger extracurricular programs in Northampton public schools, it saddens me that the coming of spring brings not hope, but distress to the city.

Well-loved faculty members may become unemployed in the near future, and the children of our community will return from summer vacation to schools that teach only the subjects that are considered to be “core.” As someone who is the academic product of a combination of core subjects and arts curriculums at the Leeds School, JFK Middle School, and Northampton High School, I sympathize heartily with the objections I have witnessed from my younger sisters and their friends, not to mention the band of Facebook activists whose comments have popped up on my news feed over the past few days.

The grievances of students and families are certainly valid, but there is another facet of this issue that I have not heard discussed at length. If arts programs are not offered in our schools for free, they will only be available to those who can afford private lessons and classes. The purpose of public education is to provide an equal opportunity for any child to be educated, and I believe that this should include opportunities for creative expression. By accepting the cuts that are being proposed, we as a community accept that not every child will be afforded the experience of performing on a stage or showing off a piece of artwork, and that many students would be excluded from obtaining the educational benefits of studying the fine and performing arts. Inequalities that already exist in our society would be deepened, and it is our kids who would be most harshly affected.

No one can deny that the budget is insufficient, but eliminating arts from Northampton schools would have lasting negative ramifications. In recognizing this, let us come together to bring hope to a spring that has started with none.

Abigail Stowe-Thurston

Florence

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