As a music professional and the parent of a District 65 student (Oakton School), I'm greatly dismayed by the prospect of reducing the number of arts teachers in our schools.
Some of the most compelling and exciting research into the effects of music study on the brain show what I and other professional artists and teachers have observed for years--high-quality and variety-rich arts training is a most effective springboard to mastering higher mathematical, scientific and communications skills.
Much of this research has been done right here in Evanston at Northwestern University by Dr. Nina Kraus in the Auditory Neurosience Lab (www.brainvolts.northwestern.edu). It's now clear that arts training is "core" curriculum--calling simultaneously on both hemispheres of the brain like no other discipline, musical training in particular.
For such a progressive community, the suggestion to dilute the training which gives our students a greater chance to be academically successful and to connect more deeply with their humanity and with that of their peers seems highly misguided.
Having full-time arts staffing creates a greater sense of community in our schools. In the case of Oakton School, arts-related training and activities form much of the identity of who we are as a learning community. Full-time arts teachers provide routinely a rich variety of enhanced programs, often on their own time. We will suffer, academically and culturally, if our arts staff hours are reduced.
Reaching a minimum number of "contact minutes" are not what is required in this situation, I would argue. Our students having access to full-time arts teachers is one of the greatest learning gifts that we can give them.
I respectfully request that you reconsider this course of action.
Founder and Artistic Director,
The Musical Offering