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Arts education is crucial to our students' success


The letters S-T-E-M spell STEM. They stand for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. STEM + Art = STEAM.

On Oct. 10, Oregon’s Chief Education Officer Rudy Crew spoke at a public town hall at Liberty High School in Hillsboro, which has an Intel-sponsored STEM program. When their star student testified, Rudy Crew applauded. Earlier in the program, as Rudy Crew was answering a question about how to help students avoid bad influences and stay focused in school, he said very emphatically that you don’t cut the arts, drama or athletics. He extended that these keep kids in school, making them more likely to graduate and go on to college.

The Oregon Education Investment Board and its predecessor have long been considering some kind of STEM project. A presentation during a recent OEIB meeting talks about STEAM — not STEM.

“Investing in science, technology, engineering, math and the creative arts is crucial to engaging and motivating Oregon’s students to reach the 40-40-20 goal. Competencies acquired through STEAM education — computer skills, basic math, problem solving, critical thinking, spatial awareness — are needed in a broad range of occupations and industries. Further, the ‘soft skills’ acquired through STEAM — perseverance, collaboration and creativity — are stronger indicators of future success in college and career than even mastery of basic content,” the presentation stated.

In addition to the OEIB’s endorsement of STEAM, the governor spoke about STEAM at the Oregon School Board Association’s meeting on Nov. 10. In Oregon, our education and government leaders say STEAM.

In the course of many one-on-one conversations, the Beaverton Friends of Music have reminded the School Board that the arts are core curriculum per national definitions and state requirements. The arts are of high value to the public in Oregon, as recently emphasized by Measure 26-146 (the Portland Arts Tax) passing convincingly Nov. 6.

We know that our school budget is a year-round process. We therefore remind you at every opportunity: the arts are crucial to our children’s development into successful, productive, educated citizens. The arts are included in the district’s strategic plan.

The Beaverton Friends of Music encourage you to explore a further resolution to keep and grow the arts, to fund comprehensive music programs to national recommended minimums, and to recognize them as the energizing and unifying force in core education.

Jennifer Mohr is the music teacher at Cooper Mountain and Fir Grove elementary schools. She is also a member of the Beaverton Friends of Music, musiceducationmatters.org.