At Oregon’s Astoria High School last fall, school officials cut popular classes in photography, graphic arts and pottery because of overall funding problems. If January’s levy didn’t pass at Washington’s Gig Harbor High School, officials threatened to cut all extracurricular activities. And, several years ago, the University of Washington tried to eliminate its entire communications department.
Across the country, high schools and colleges are whacking away at those offerings deemed "non-essential."
Many professors at PLU would say we can ill afford to stop teaching literature to our business majors requiring our computer engineering majors to take classes such as drama and music. To do so runs the risk of graduating less-competent, one-dimensional citizens who can’t think on their feet, carry on a conversation with others outside their discipline, or understand the inter-relatedness of our global society.
Studies show that when funding for the arts dries up at the high school level, incoming college freshmen are less prepared for the rigors of higher education. In 1994, 1995 and 1996, average verbal and math SAT scores from high schools with no art electives were 30-50 percent lower than scores from schools with drama, dance, music, art and design as part of their regular curricula.
PLU’s 108-year-old roots are planted in the rich soil of both the liberal and professional. In fact, the first definition of a New American College (PLU is one of 21 in the country) is the "dedication to the integration of liberal and professional studies."
This strong emphasis on an integrated academic experience at PLU prompted Scene editors to take a closer look at the importance of the arts to higher education and to life in general. If you have a story about how the inclusion of the arts at PLU prepared you for life on many levels, we’d love to hear from you in a short letter.