Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Lansing schools cope with arts education cuts through magnet programs, in-class work

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LANSING -- Budget cuts may have eliminated elementary classes in arts, music and physical education for Lansing School District students, but that hasn't stopped arts education from still taking place.

The district was forced earlier this year to eliminate 87 jobs - including elementary art, music and physical education teachers - to make up for a $9 million budget deficit. Instead, the district implemented an "innovative arts and fitness" program where fewer than 20 non-certified "consultant" instructors teach the subjects during regular class time alongside teachers.

The Lansing School District declined to make Superintendent Yvonne Caamal Canul or members of the district's innovative arts and fitness program available for interviews, citing end-of-year schedules.

Cutting arts educators is a common cost-savings move for districts because of how art teachers are trained and how funding is allocated to schools, Joni Starr, assistant professor of education at Michigan State University said.