Creating schedules and planning electives is always an exciting time of the year for the average high school student. With an abundance of classes to choose from, students are often overwhelmed with choices; however, students with special needs are instead underwhelmed rather than overwhelmed because they’re limited to only taking Partner’s Art and Partner’s Theatre once during their entire high school experience. Restricting their ability to take art or theatre more than once, takes away their main source of creativity they get to experience throughout the day.
Due to the fact that students with special needs are required to have the same amount of credits as the average student to graduate, the option to repeat art or theatre was eliminated from their choices, as there is no way to get more credits for the course.
While art is beneficial for every student, it is particularly important for students with special needs. The Parent Guide News says that art allows students who have a difficult time expressing their thoughts through words, to express themselves visually in ways that make sense to themselves as well as others. Students with special needs also benefit from the fact that art and theatre is subjective, thus giving them freedom in knowing that there is no particular right and wrong in those classes.
In Partner’s Art, students are praised for their work and their creativity within their work. They are able to use their hands to create something of their own and be celebrated for their efforts, rather than their finished products. This is crucial for students that have special needs because it boosts their confidence and allows them to feel more comfortable going out of their comfort zones.
Though students are able to repeat Partner’s PE and gain another credit every year without drastically changing activities within the course, students are unable to repeat Partner’s Art or Partner’s Theatre because the curriculum hasn’t evolved. This is puzzling because it’s unclear who decided that physical education is more valuable than the arts.
While exercise and the use of physical skills is extremely important, it’s wrong that the arts are not valued at the same level. Some students with special needs crave structure and a set routine. If a student chooses to take Partner’s Art their freshman year, it can be troubling to return sophomore year and not have the same scheduled classes.
This issue should be widely reevaluated. Whether it be creating a Partner’s Art/Theatre II or just allowing students to gain credits from repeating the original Partner’s Art or Partner’s Theatre classes, a change needs to be made. It is restricting enough for special education students to only have three elective choices. For these classes to be limited to this extreme is frustrating for both teachers and students with special needs themselves.