A nation plagued by school shootings watched the horror play out yet again in Southeast Texas when eight Santa Fe High School students and two teachers were killed and 10 others were wounded recently in the worst school shooting since the February assault on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Many of these victims were in an arts classroom making art at the time.
Schools must be safe places for students to learn and pursue their passions in the arts and beyond.
Many students have banded together in the aftermath to speak out against school violence using the skills they have learned through the arts, which has gathered national momentum and international attention. These students not only deserve our applause, but also our support as followers while they emerge as the passionate and creative leaders of tomorrow. As arts education advocates, we fight tirelessly for equitable access to quality arts learning experiences so that all students can pursue their passions in school, work, and life. We seek to provide opportunities for young people to be part of a unifying effort, and increase empathy and tolerance. For instance, according to a 2012 study titled “The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth: Findings from Four Longitudinal Studies,”
12th graders who participate in the arts are 40 percent more likely to have racially diverse friends and 29 percent less likely to feel that it is okay to make a racist remark. While nothing can lessen the impact of recent, tragic school shootings, the arts are one way for people to find solace and strength.
Please read Arts Education Program Manager Jeff M. Poulin’s blog about how survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, turned to the arts following the tragedy at their school:
As well, Americans for the Arts President and CEO Robert L. Lynch wrote two Huffington Post articles about how the arts not only heal and provide comfort, but also unify and inspire action: