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What Do They Know That We Don’t?

Mike Lawson • November 2008 • November 10, 2008

In addition, he said the new arts tax credit and the fitness tax credit will be made fully refundable so lower income families will receive cash payments if their incomes are too low to qualify for tax credits.

“Giving working families a break is one of the most important Conservative priorities,” Harper said.

The prime minister also promised to expand the RESP program to allow charities and not-for-profit organizations to establish savings plans for children from low-income families in partnership with parents.

As with most campaign promises, this prompted dialog in the context of the campaign. Was it enough? Are they missing the point that what is needed is not tax credits but more in-school music and arts programs? When the elections were held on October 14th, 2008 the Prime Minister’s party won. This means we should soon see this new tax credit implemented in Canada.

A somewhat heartening takeaway from this was the fact that the importance of arts education was being debated as part of a national election. Here in the United States, we had lots of discussion during the primaries about arts education. For our general election, however, the debate on this issue has gone silent.

After reading this story, I was not sure if this tax credit would be good or bad for music and arts education. Instead of credits, how about just putting the programs in the schools, so parents would not have to spend their tax money on the programs as others suggested? Ultimately, I came down on the side of this being a net positive since, hey… a little incentive to encourage parents to have their children participate in music and arts and dance and theater can’t hurt.

After reading that story I received the following news item from…

China
The China News Service reported:

“Artistic talent” to become factor for appraising Chinese students
Performance in arts courses will become a factor in evaluating primary and middle school students, the Ministry of Education said on Thursday.

Arts education was insufficient because of lack of time, teachers and resources, which has hindered the development of quality-oriented education, said a course plan for compulsory education issued by the ministry on its website.

Chinese students are wellknown for intelligence and diligence as shown by high scores but often show little or no artistic talent.

Many youngsters, especially in rural areas, do not know how to sing or dance and have never had music or art lessons.

Under the plan, class-hours for the arts should take up 9 to 11percent of the school time in the nine-year course of compulsory education, which includes six years of primary school and three years of junior high school.

Primary and middle schools should use arts textbooks approved by the educational departments and improve their teaching quality in accordance with national standards, it said.

Performance in arts courses should be included in a student’s record as an important promotion factor.

Most urban schools have full-time arts teachers, but many rural schools lack such professionals. Some schools only have part-time arts teachers or have none.

China is expanding music and art education for all children! Very exciting! Very enlightened! Can you imagine the number of young children that will benefit from this new mandate? We are talking tens of millions of children… making music! My head is spinning just thinking about it!

So Canada has a new tax credit for music and arts participation and China has now mandated music and arts and will use it in student evaluations.

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