More Than a "B" Issue -- The feature article, "Arts vs. Sports," by Michael Bowen (3/13/03), is one subject that band students and their parents both agree upon. Something is not fair when students who volunteer to stay after school for athletics get their way paid, while students who take band for a grade during school must pay for every trip taken after school hours.
Mead High School, where both our son and daughter are involved in athletics and the instrumental music program, is one of many schools in the greater Spokane area that have received recognition because of student success in a variety of after-school activities. The Mead Marching Band took top honors in two of their three in-state competitions and then traveled to Las Vegas in November to compete with some of the biggest and best high school bands in the West -- coming in first place in their division and 4th overall out of 33 bands. Having "First Place - Mead High School from Spokane, Washington!" announced in front of thousands at UNLV stadium should have been a feather in the cap of the Chamber of Commerce. But how many residents (other than Mead band parents) even knew about it?
A daily sports section gives minute details of every conceivable athletic event, and nightly TV provides updates on high school athletics. However, if you want to know what is going on in the theater, instrumental, vocal music or other arts departments of a particular school, you might find it hidden deep in the small print of page B-5 -- and almost never on TV.
The issue of Sports vs. the Arts is about money and district policies as well as a culture infatuated with million-dollar athletes. But the media is also part of the problem. Our local paper needs an easy-to-find, daily column with activities and news of all of our high schools. Our TV reporters need to stop by a school musical, debate, or concert weekly so we can all see what is going on besides basketball.
No More Parking Lots -- I say NO to the demolition of the wonderful old buildings in downtown Spokane. Please do not do such a terrible thing. They could be wonderful dwellings and businesses, and they add so much to the character of our downtown. Once they are gone, they can never be replaced. Learn from the beauty of the Davenport, please! My vote is NO, NO, NO.
Pride Goes Before a Fall -- Great superpowers lead by demonstrating democracy and respect for other nations; they don't dictate. President Bush's policies of using military force in Iraq won't protect me. In fact, his commitment to go to war, disregarding what our allies say and what the weapons inspectors report makes me feel much more vulnerable to attack.
Not only will his policies destabilize the entire Middle East, they are damaging our relationships with other nations in the United Nations. Why would other democratic nations want to enter into alliances with us in the future if we ignore what they say and just do whatever we want?
Although I'm a Christian minister, I am very nervous that President Bush is using his faith to ignite a holy war crusade. Pride goes before a fall. When we don't listen to dissenting opinions or examine our own faults as a nation, we are acting in a prideful and boastful way.
It's not too late to repent from our prideful ways. Our president is not listening. Like King David, he needs people in his life that will take the risk, as the prophet Nathan did, to speak the truth, even when it's hard to hear. We all need to speak out before it is too late. We need to listen to voices of wisdom in this time of fear.
Susie L. Weller
Liberty Lake, Wash.
Arts = Smarts -- I greatly appreciated Michael Bowen's article about the arts in education ("Arts vs. Sports," 3/13/02). Strong arts education is a critical element to an education for all kids -- not just kids who will grow up to be artists. There was one thing missing, in my opinion, in this article, which is the role the state legislature plays in supporting arts in the curriculum and the role state funding plays in maintaining all of education. As Legislative Affairs Committee Chair for the Washington State Arts Alliance for the past two years, I have watched several attempts to eliminate the arts assessments. I have seen the challenges we face in state funding not only for the arts in education but for the Washington State Arts Commission.
The Washington State Arts Commission has funded more than 20 organizations in Eastern Washington through its grant programs. In the governor's budget, the Washington State Arts Commission is targeted for a 40 percent budget reduction -- much greater than for other state agencies. This is inequitable and will do more damage than help in balancing the state's budget. The money granted to arts organizations is heavily leveraged by private sources. Grassroots support is critical to the success of arts organizations and for the arts in schools here. This year's budget hasn't been passed yet, and there are many decisions yet to be made.
The Washington State Arts Alliance monitors the legislature for all related arts and arts education issues. If you are interested in more information about our work, please feel free to contact me, or the WSAA office at (206) 448-1909. You can get more information about the alliance at www.wsartsalliance.com.
Thanks to the Inlander for its great interest in arts and culture in the community and for addressing this important topic.