In July of 2010, the U.S. House of Representatives passed House Resolution #275 designating the second week of September as National Arts in Education Week. The resolution expressed congressional support for arts education:
Whereas arts education, comprising a rich array of disciplines including dance, music, theatre, media arts, literature, design, and visual arts, is a core academic subject and an essential element of a complete and balanced education for all students.
Sandra Ruppert – Director, Arts Education Partnership
Forty-nine states and district of Columbia have adopted standards for what students should know and be able to do in the arts. In addition, 45 states require, by law, that elementary schools in their state provide arts instruction. And 27 states define the arts in statute or code as a core or academic subject. Given these facts, then, why do so many education leaders and school officials still treat the arts as extracurricular, extraneous or expendable when making school staffing and funding decisions? How do we explain the “policy paradox” of strong policies for the arts in education at the state level but weak implementation of those same policies at the school level? Let’s see more stories where the commitment from the state house to the school house has produced a coordinated strategy and decisive actions to ensure that all students receive a complete and balanced education that includes the arts as an essential component.
Jane Chu – Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts
If we want to get serious about closing the achievement gap, then we need to get serious about the arts. This is a matter of urgency, especially given recent news that 51 percent of U.S. public school students now live in poverty. Arts education is vital to the future of our young people and our country, giving children from every background new opportunities for growth. The arts are not a frill. When school districts cut arts education from the budget they’re cutting short their students’ potential for academic and social success, as well as solving old problems in new ways.
By exposing our children to the arts, we are teaching them in ways that transcend flash cards and textbooks. The arts teach us how to think creatively. They give our brains license to search for color where others might see black-and-white, or to create music when others might stay silent. These are the qualities of leaders and of visionaries.
Get the facts about the benefits of arts learning for students and teachers. Did you know that arts learning is linked to positive student outcomes such as engagement and persistence, overall academic achievement, communication and collaboration, and positive behavior, among others? Visit ArtsEdSearch.org, a first-of-its-kind clearinghouse of arts education research, to learn more about these and other benefits of arts learning for teachers and students.
Find out what is going on in your school, district, and state. What are the policies in place in your community that either support or hinder student access and participation in arts learning? You can use ArtScan, AEP’s clearinghouse of arts education policies to find out information about your state. This searchable database contains the latest information on arts education state policies and practices in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The Arts Leading the Way to Student Success: A 2020 Action Agenda for the Arts in Education (2015) This action agenda will serve as the blueprint for the collective work of the Arts Education Partnership for the next five years. By addressing the four priority areas highlighted in this agenda, the Partnership will be moving toward the goal that, by the year 2020, every young person in America, at every grade level, will have equitable access to high quality arts learning opportunities, both during the school day and out-of-school time.
Preparing Students for the Next America (2013): AEP’s latest research bulletin offers a snapshot of how the arts support achievement in school, bolster skills demanded of a 21st century workforce, and enrich the lives of young people and communities. It draws on the research in AEP’s ArtsEdSearch.org, the nation’s first clearinghouse of research on the impact of arts education on students and their school communities. (Download the PDF)
What School Leaders Can do to Increase Arts Education (2011): As the top building-level leaders, school principals play a key role in ensuring every student receives a high-quality arts education as part of a complete education. This brochure-length guide, prepared by AEP with support from the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) offers three concrete actions—supported by low-cost or no-cost strategies—school principals can take to increase arts education in their schools. (Download the PDF)
New Opportunities for Interest-Driven Arts Learning in a Digital Age, The Wallace Foundation (2013): This report delves into “interest-driven arts learning,” that is, exploration of the arts that emerges from children’s and teens’ own creative passions. The report identifies challenges and offers suggestions for future research, practice, and policy that build on current knowledge about interest-driven arts learning to enable more youth, particularly disadvantaged youth, to participate in the arts. (Download the full report)
The President’s Committee for the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH): In 2011, PCAH released a major report documenting the benefits and potential opportunities for the advancement of arts education. (Download the full report)
Arts Access in U.S. Schools (2009-10 FRSS): Arts Education in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools: 1999-2000 and 2009-10, released by the U.S. Department of Education and its Institute of Education Sciences (IES), reports on data collected on student access to arts education and the resources available for such instruction. AEP and a coalition of partners have developed a toolkit for understanding, communicating, and utilizing the Arts Education in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools report. (Learn more)