Back in December I covered the disappointing decision by the Burnsville/Eagan/Savage ISD 191 to open an arts magnet school in the very expensive and very empty Burnsville Performing Arts Center. Well, the saga continues with a recent Star Tribune fluff article which rants and raves about how people are attracted to the magnet being offered by ISD 191.
Why is this article fluff you ask? Well, because only 65 of 150 (43% of the magnet’s max enrollment and less than 2.75% of Burnsville HS’ overall enrollment) possible arts magnet spots are taken as of this point in time and being that it costs approximately (and mind you, this math is very general) $10,000/student to operate this magnet. While that’s great for those 65 students, the rest of the students in the district are suffering because of a politically backed 4-3 decision to get people into the PAC and using it–instead of it remaining empty like it does for the rest of the year–all while screwing taxpayers out of even more of their hard earned money by funneling $135,000 more a year into that worthless money pit.
Now we all know that the magnet was a poorly conceived idea which was only to funnel money into the coffers of the city but what about the benefit it will provide to the very few students that wander its cavernous halls? After all, that’s what spending money for education is all about–giving students a chance at bettering themselves under a rigorous program aimed at really challenging them, right? Unfortunately for the students attending the ISD 191 arts magnet and the thousands of taxpayers funding it, that doesn’t seem to be the case at all.
From the Star Tribune article:
Ballet’s not as bad as I thought it would be,” said Sharp, one of 65 students at the brand-new Envision Academy of the Arts. “It’s actually kind of tough to do. I underestimated it.
Please note that Mr. Sharp doesn’t mention dick about how tough the classes are that are tied to the ballet. Nope, nothing about that at all. Most would say well isn’t the point of an arts school–it’s meant to teach people the fine arts. Well, if they hadn’t spent $1.2 million dollars to build classrooms in an empty restaurant space and plan to spend an additional $800,000 a year after that in lease I would tend to agree. But aside from that, a quick look over the syllabi for some of the programs offered and you too will wonder what the fuck is going on over there. So on that note let’s take a quick look at one of the syllabuses for the dance courses offered at the Burnsville/Eagan/Savage (ISD 191) Performing Arts Magnet (you can see more on their terrible website here):
From: Arts Essential Syllabus
-PARTICIPATION Students will be graded on their positive attitude and willingness to try – each day students can earn up to 5 participation points. 120 Apx. Points possible
-VOCABULARY and MOVEMENT At the end of the 5 week sampler students will take a written and experiential skills test demonstrating what they have learned throughout the session. 20 points
-JOURNAL Students will need to keep a daily journal and have a binder with paper and pen. What should be included in your journal? New movement skills and vocabulary words that you have learned, thoughts on how class is going, how you feel you are doing, what you notice other students doing, thoughts on dance as an art form in general, thoughts on how dance is applicable to what you do in your daily life…
These will be handed in at the mid-way point and at the end of the 5 week session
Total 165 Apx. Points Possible
Now, I don’t know about you but when I was in HS I would have absolutely loved a cake class like this one. Show up to class (which is mandatory for most HS students anyway) and not fall alseep and get a 72% (which I assume is still a passing grade). Sounds like a real toughie! I looked at a couple of the other syllabi and found similar (if not identical) course requirements. I don’t know what “high quality, licensed staff in all areas at Envision,” (via their unlinkable FAQ) means but compared to what is available elsewhere in the academic world–this does not cut the mustard at all. Is the “oh, you just have to try thing” something new that was enacted in the 10+ years since I graduated HS? When I was there I did my fair share of goofing off but I paid for it. It would appear that offering only the bare minimum will get you everywhere in ISD 191. Where is the outrage from parents and taxpayers?!
So, now that you know that the ISD 191 arts magnet is a complete and utter joke meant only to siphon more money away from the taxpayers of multiple cities, what do you think about ISD 191′s Envision Academy of the Arts magnet school located in the HOC and Burnsville Performing Arts Center? Do you think, based on the syllabi listed above and the low enrollment numbers, that this is worth $1.2 million this year and $800,000/year thereafter? Do you think that students will end up exiting the program in shape and ready to go for arts professions or post-secondary arts education when the hardest test is “trying”? Whatever you think about Burnsville/Eagan/Savage School District (ISD 191)’s arts magnet go ahead and comment on and let’s see if we can come up with better coursework than these so called “high quality, licensed staff members”.