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Schools Help Close Racial Gaps in Arts Education, Study Suggests

New studies by the National Endowment for the Arts suggest schools play a critical role in giving students of color access to music, drama, and other arts classes, but there's a long way to go to close gaps in participation.

More than two-thirds of white adults in 2012 recalled having visited a museum or gallery or attended a concert or play as a child, versus less than 15 percent of students of Hispanic, black. and other races. Parents of school-age children in that year (about a quarter of all the adults in the survey) reported continuing gaps, but significantly more arts experience for their own children: 

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  • More than 48 percent of parents of white children reported their children had attended a gallery, museum, or theatrical performance, as did more than a third of black parents and 29 percent of Hispanic parents.
  • Nearly 70 percent of black students, 56 percent of Hispanic students, and 75 percent of white students had taken classes in music or art in school in the last 12 months, their parents reported.
  • Compare that to the little more than 30 percent of white students, 19 percent of black students and little more than 10 percent of Hispanic students who took art or music classes outside of school.

That last comparison highlights the importance of school-based classes and programs in getting children involved in art. On the good side, the National Endowment for the Arts studies suggest the  focus on math and reading instruction has not neccessarily led to lower overall student participation in music, drama, creative writing, and other arts classes. For an in-depth look at how arts education and participation has changed during the No Child Left Behind Act years, check out Liana Heitin's coverage over at Curriculum Matters.

Chart Source: National Endowment for the Arts.

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