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Why K-12 Arts Education Is Worth Saving

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Research has repeatedly demonstrated that children who are exposed to the arts score higher on standardized tests, graduate at increased rates, are better problem-solvers, and are overall more engaged citizens. With arts creating such a positive effect, it's unfortunate that many of today's youth are unable to experience and create art at school.

The Miami Herald's Sheila Womble recently delved into this issue and showed how arts education programs overall are not getting the support they need nationwide. Public schools art education programs tend to be undervalued and in turn underfunded. Nationally, K-5 students receive an average of 45 minutes of arts education per week. Fewer and fewer elementary schools are even offering music and visual arts classes, in comparison to that of a decade ago. Middle and high school students receive even less arts instruction. More than 51 percent of teachers report there is less instructional time and fewer resources allotted to the arts, based on a U.S. Department of Education study. Close to 800,000 secondary school students are not receiving musical or arts instruction at school whatsoever.

Though budget deficits and increased standardized testing have posed challenges in terms of providing appropriate arts education to our students, the value is clear and must be made a priority. To aid in filling the arts education gaps, community organizations have stepped in to provide enrichment programs to youth before and after school.

The arts can have a significant impact on young learners and these classes prepare them to be intelligent, productive citizens. Students need to be exposed to arts to help enhance their minds and experiences, even if the important lessons they are learning are not quantifiable on a test. It is imperative that an appeal is made to decision-makers to ensure arts education is part of a well-balanced public education.

It's up to educators to push back and demand students have these vital components in their days, no matter what specialty of the teacher. Quality arts education improves the learning process across the board. 

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The opinions expressed in Education Futures: Emerging Trends in K-12 are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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