Art in the Classroom
Students across the United States are not getting a full arts education. According to a 2012 report published by the National Center for Education Statistics, the amount of arts education was much lower at public elementary schools in 2009-2010 than ten years earlier, particularly with visual arts, dance, and drama. Cuts have been reported in middle and high school as well.
Experts point to the emphasis of math and reading comprehension education and testing as some factors reducing arts education as well as significant budget cuts that many communities have experienced. In 2012, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan explained that high-poverty schools have seen the most art program cuts.
The trend of losing arts programs doesn’t just mean that students lose the opportunity to paint or play music. Arts education is correlated to greater educational and professional success later in life. From art history to music reading, art classes can improve broader cultural education, enhance academic understanding in other subjects, and lead to routes of passion and expression.
Arts education has also been tied to better attendance, more creativity, improved fine motor skills, more interest in learning, and many other beneficial traits. Although arts education is cut the most in high-poverty school districts, these are the students who are shown to be the most impacted by these programs. A National Endowment for the Arts survey shows that arts education particularly increases the chances of earning a bachelor’s degree for students at high-poverty schools by more than 30 percent.
With continued budget cuts, a greater focus on math and reading education, and an enduring emphasis on standardized testing, the future for art education in public schools around the U.S. may seem bleak. However, the growth of technology and software over the same period can provide educators with novel and inexpensive options for new art teaching methods.
From simple drawing apps to complex video-editing software, technological advancements can enable arts education for a fraction of the price of what it cost even 15 years ago. For resource-strapped public schools where art classes are the first thing on the chopping block, these technologies are key to providing the balanced education that most benefit students.