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Support the arts in city schools [Letter]

As Baltimore City public schools move into a new chapter with new leadership and embark on a major building campaign, the arts offer a unique opportunity to transform our schools. We thank the city commissioners for choosing a new CEO with a track record of supporting the arts ("Welcome, Mr. Thornton," Feb. 19).

The performing and visual arts build students' capacities for creativity and innovation. Research is clear that the arts heighten students' motivation and build their abilities in communication, collaboration and critical judgment. Further, characteristics such as perseverance, resilience and dedication to excellence are imbued through the arts. Schools in which the arts are present are vital learning communities which value the voice of every child.

If Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's goal of moving families to Baltimore is to be met, education in the arts is a key strategy. Schools with strong arts programs are schools of choice for families. They are the heart of their neighborhoods and they prepare our students for a rapidly changing world. Baltimore is increasingly a leading arts city, but in too many of our schools the arts have been left behind.

We must turn over a new page in our schools and not only restore the arts programs that have been lost, but create new and exciting opportunities for students to learn in and through the arts. We look forward to working with the newly appointed CEO to ensure that all of the students in our city schools have access to the arts.

Mary Cary and Mary Ann Mears, Baltimore

The writers are, respectively, executive director and trustee of the Arts Education in Maryland Schools Alliance.

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