Arts in Education

Today is Patriot Day, the 16th anniversary of September 11, 2001.

9-11 Remembrance

We’re all a little distracted though. Hurricane Harvey washed over Houston 17 days ago; the city sank 2 cm. Hurricane Irma started shredding Florida yesterday. Enjoy this column from last year, slightly updated.


The time has come again to join area artists and arts councils to celebrate National Arts In Education Week. It began yesterday and continues through September 16.

You can take part. Take just a couple of minutes to write a Letter to the Editor of the Courier, Free Press, the Messenger or your own hometown paper. Tell your story of why the arts in education matter to you.

The Drawing Class

Designated by Congress in 2010, House Resolution 275 names the week beginning with the second Sunday in September as National Arts in Education Week. During this week, the field of arts education and its supporters join together in communities across the country to tell the story of the transformative power of the arts in education.

In 2016, it is a particularly important time to celebrate arts education, as we usher in a new chapter of American educational policy with the new “Every Student Succeeds” Act and its many arts-friendly provisions. In the new law, the arts remain a well-rounded subject and are empowered to be central to a child’s education in our public schools. More importantly, music helps kids learn math. Art helps kids learn language. Reading helps kids learn to write.

Our municipal, school, and state leaders need to know about the impact the arts have on young peoples’ lives and that they must support the arts in every district and every school in America.

After sending in your letter to the editor, you can join the movement of thousands of arts education advocates celebrating National Arts in Education Week. Contribute to the visibility campaign on social media during the week of September 11-17, 2016 by using the hashtag, #BecauseOfArtsEd. People from all walks of life can share their story of the transformative power of the arts in their own education and the impact the arts have had on their work and life.

Here are some ways to participate:

• Write a letter. Take two minutes to write a Letter to the Editor of the Courier, Free Press, or Messenger or to your local paper. Tell us why the arts in education matter to you.

• Post on Facebook. Tell the world your #BecauseOfArtsEd story on Facebook. Describe what you are doing now in work and life and how arts education has a positive impact with a photo! Be sure to use #ArtsEdWeek, too.

• Send a tweet. Share your quick #BecauseOfArtsEd story on Twitter. Be sure to include an image or video along with #ArtsEdWeek.

• Share a photo. Post your favorite arts education photo on Instagram along with your #BecauseOfArtsEd story about the impact of arts education on your life. Be sure to use #ArtsEdWeek.

And be sure to send your letter or tweets to your school board and to our representatives in Montpelier and in Washington.


Disasters, whether manmade or natural, bring out the best in us. Art reminds us how good that can be.

Above the Fallen by Amy Stump

Labor Day? Really?

On this day named for Laborers on which we do not Work, it is worth noting that politicians do not create jobs, no matter what they say.

Back in 2009 when she was still boss, Nancy Pelosi (D – CA) wrote about the final G.R.A.F.T. Act, “This legislation will jumpstart our economy, create and save 3.5 million jobs.” She used the phrase “create jobs” or “create really really outstanding jobs” 41 times.

Uh huh. Politicians do not create jobs.

The site trumpeted that, “Thanks to Governor Granholm’s 21st Century Jobs Fund, this new economy is actually taking shape… The first round of awards has already provided funding to 67 companies and projects, creating thousands of jobs…”

Uh huh. Politicians do not create jobs.

Michigan is closer to the truth. Politicians give away OPM to businesses that create jobs. “OPM” is “Other People’s Money,” something politicians think they have an infinite supply of and that We the [Other] People know is running out.

It is Labor Day and we are not laboring. Politicians will create no jobs today, either, but they will walk in parades and pretend they have.

Caution -- Workers AheadSome Americans are laboring.

Human chains of volunteers, of rescuers, of neighbors, and even the evil ExxonMobil, all came together in Texas this week. Christians and Jews, Buddhists and Muslims, atheists and Hindus, white and black, liberals and separatists, immigrants and indigenous peoples, even Democrats and Republicans all came together. No one cares about the color or creed of their rescuers. The human chain held.

My money is on Texas.

This column first appeared on Monday, September 7, 2009. I have updated it slightly, then Harvey added a twist.


The Science Isn’t Wrong

But it ain’t right, either. Mayday! Mayday!

“The science is fixed,” Science Friday host Ira Flatow keeps selling^H telling us.

In the “Robot Sadism” episode of Science Friday, associate producer Christie Taylor went to JPL to find out how to build a wheel that lasts.

In 2013, rover operators had noticed a gaping hole in Curiosity’s left front wheel as it moved across the Mars landscape. After some investigation, they realized “it wasn’t just one little mishap that caused a puncture or one particularly awful rock,” said engineer Patrick DeGrosse. “It was just the first symptom.”

Mr. DeGrosse is a member of the Tiger Team that tests copies of Curiosity’s wheels here on Earth.

Size of a Football Field on EarthIn the Mars Yard, a not-even-football field-sized test track in Pasadena, a test rover demonstrated whether the wheels slip or get bogged down or can climb a rock. (Do click the pic to see.) “Physics equations can’t tell you any of that,” Ms. Taylor said about the myriad of tiny interactions with the surface of Mars.

“You don’t sit down at your computer and draw up the complexity of sand grains and rocks and what all those friction coefficients are and how they tumble over each other when a wheel hits them. We’re just not at that stage yet,” Mr. DeGrosse said.

We’re not?

And yet, the science is fixed! We can map the earth and the GPS in our car will always direct us to the next location!

The science is fixed! We can cure the common cold!

The science is fixed! The sun’s corona is millions of degrees hotter than the surface and we don’t yet know why.

The science is fixed! 70-95% or humans are right-handed but we still cannot describe why we use one hand instead of the other.

The science is fixed! The planet Saturn has a massive, continuous hurricane up near the pole. Earth’s hurricanes are powered by warm ocean and wind down as they hit land or cold water. Saturn has no oceans and is really cold. Huh.

The science isn’t wrong. But the political and lay interpreters ain’t right, either.

And that’s the lesson for today.



The Puffin saw its shadow this morning.

Spring sprung at 6:29 a.m. as the Sun crossed directly over the Earth’s equator. OK, the Earth tilted so the equator was pointed directly at the Sun, Rufus. Jeez.

For that brief moment in time, there are equal periods of sunshine and darkness all over the world. Assuming the sun is “out.” Not “of the closet,” Rufus. Jeez.

People have recognized the vernal equinox with ritual and traditions for thousands of years. The Puffin is not that old.

The first day of astronomical Spring is a day of special gravity. The ancient (and many modern) Chinese believed that you can stand an egg on its end on the first day of spring. That’s (probably) less violent than the people in Poland who drown the Marzanna or the Swiss who burn a snowman at the stake. Google has a doodle. A smart doodle.

Google Doodle for Spring

On the other hand, people in Vermont are still betting on when the ice will go out on Joe’s Pond. The ice thickness on was 14 inches a couple of weeks ago and Kyle thinks more ice will form with the coming cold temperatures.

The Puffin saw its shadow on the beach this morning.

Students generally head for sunshine for Spring break, so there are lots of young, bikini clad bodies cavorting on beaches here.

There were a couple of pretty, fair weather clouds early but the temp was hovering at about 69 in sunshine first thing. It will be sunny with a high around 77 again and 10-15 mph of northeast wind. Mostly clear tonight and nice for the rest of the week.

Hmmm. Ice out or beach and beer?

The sun was definitely “out.” The Puffin saw its shadow which means we’re in for four more weeks of sunshine here in South Puffin and, sadly, you’re not.