Public Education and the Arts

What should be the nature and scope of arts education in our public schools?

Should every student have some form of experience producing works of art?

According to a study by Americans for the Arts, children who have experienced arts education compared to students who have not  are:

4 times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement

3 times more likely to be elected to class office within their schools

4 times more likely to participate in a math and science fair

3 times more likely to win an award for school attendance

4 times more likely to win an award for writing an essay or poem



In the United States as of 2013, 90% of students attend public schools according to the US Department of Education.

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 had an effect on the place of art in public education. The act’s goal was to increase funding to public schools and to implement a set of standards that public schools would have to meet. The act listed core subjects, for example math, reading, and science, and established a set of standardized tests which would ensure that each school was providing the minimum amount of focus on those subjects. The NCLB retains the arts as part of the “core curriculum” for all schools but it does not require reporting any instruction time or assessment data for arts education content or performance standards, which has caused a decline in the amount of funding and instruction time allocated for arts programs.

National organizations promoting arts education include Americans for the Arts, Association for the Advancement of Arts Education; Arts Education Partnership, College Art Association, and National Art Education Association.

Americans for the Arts has made it a priority to lobby Congress and raise public awareness of the limitation of arts in public schools. Their campaign “Art. Ask For More” aimed to raise public awareness of arts eduction nationwide. Go to the American’s for the Arts website  and examine their arguments for increasing art education in schools.

Do you agree or disagree with American’s for the Arts that arts education should be made a greater priority? What specific reasons can you cite for your argument?

National Standards for Arts Education
The standards outline what every K-12 student should know and be able to do in the arts. The standards were developed by the Consortium of National Arts Education Associations, through a grant administered by The National Association for Music Education (NAfME). Also take a look at the The Arts Education State Policy Database.

Is learning about the arts essential to receiving a good education?

Should there be national standards? Why?/Why not? If so, who should determine them?

Should federal, state, and local government be responsible for providing arts education in schools? When, how, and to what extent is it appropriate for the government to step in and ensure that students receive the proper amount of arts education in addition to their other subjects?

If the government provides funding to increase arts education, then who should make the decisions about what kinds of art should be taught in public schools?