Finding a place for drama programs in public schools has always been more of an art than a science. And amid intense pressures to improve academic achievement, school systems are concentrating more than ever on core subjects. Everett High School, for one, recently suspended its drama program — a hugely popular outlet for student writers and actors — and reassigned its teacher to 8th grade biology. The superintendent’s office says the system needed additional science sections, and that the high school drama teacher, Raymond Albright, happened to be certified for science. Even if understandable, the decision is shortsighted. The school should keep the drama program going.
Drama grew to five sections under Albright’s instruction. His students wrote and performed plays based on their life experiences and concerns. The program’s work, which was sometimes controversial, became a real force in statewide drama competitions. Clearly, the drama program was a point of distinction. Instead of making it an after-school activity, which is the current plan, Everett High should preserve the class, perhaps by finding another biology teacher. Meanwhile, Everett and all other school systems should recognize that even in an era of high-stakes tests, there’s room — and ample student demand — for high-quality arts instruction.