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Funding for Schools’ Art Programs Ending?

Since 2008, more than 80% of schools nationwide have experienced cuts to their budgets. These budget cuts are forcing schools to choose what is most important to their student’s education. For example, during the 1999-2000 school year, 20% of schools offered dance and theatre classes, and 87% of schools offered visual arts classes. After these budget cuts were put into place, during the 2009-2010 year for example, only 3% of schools allocated funds for dance, and only 4% offered theatre opportunities. Even though the changes to dance and theatre classes were drastic, some were not. During the same school year, 83% of schools offered visual arts classes, a less significant, but still noticeable decrease. However, during these budget cuts, music class opportunities have not changed very much, with about 94% of schools offering music classes.

One very important question being asked by many; why are the funds being cut to begin with?When the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB Act) was passed, it put more focus in schools on core subjects like math and reading. Because of the focus on these subjects, schools are forwarding more money to the areas that require standardized testing in order to keep the scores high. The NCLB Act caused schools to focus on grades and test scores, while pushing the funds to keep those numbers high, arts classes that required schools to purchase supplies for students were cut first, leading to a huge drop in arts opportunities in schools.

Another act that was passed focusing on those core subjects is the Common Core Standards Act (CSS Act). The CSS Act was put into place after the NCLB Act, with even more emphasis to be put on core subjects and skills that students needed in order to succeed in college. Similarly, to the NCLB Act, the CSS Act focuses on core subjects that required standardized testing, which does not include arts classes. Because of this, many schools reroute funding from the arts programs to core subjects like math and english classes. In some schools, this resulted in portions of arts programs being completely cut, because of the perceived need to save money and use it to raise test scores. Even though the CSS Act has caused more funds to be cut from the arts, the act does mention arts education, which has caused some arts education advocates to argue on school districts’ choice to re-route funds from the arts.

The question that many people have asked in regards to this situation is, why are education in the arts so important? With data collected from numerous studies, it has been found that students that took four years of arts classes scored a whopping 91 points higher on their SAT tests than those who did not. Arts programs have also helped decrease the dropout rate from schools. In many instances, arts classes provide motivation for students to keep attending school, which means students with long standing arts educations have higher graduation rates than those who do not partake in arts classes. Arts education is not only important in high school, but it has been found to have a large, positive impact on elementary school children. Visual arts classes taken in elementary school help develop a child’s motor skills, which are crucial and help develop these skills when children use tools such as scissors, pencils, and paintbrushes. The same also happens with language skills. By identifying colors, shapes, and descriptive words, and then discussing it with a friend or teacher, children can develop their social skills, and help increase their vocabulary at a young age. Education in music at a young age is also very important. Playing music at a young age helps connect both hemispheres of the brain, which creates long-lasting improvements in listening and communication. Children who practice a musical instrument for at least 30 minutes a week have been found to have more developed brains than other children their age who do not.

Overall, educations in the arts are very important to every student’s development. The cuts being made to schools in favor or core subjects aren’t as helpful as the school district might think. Having an education balanced in core subjects and the arts can greatly improve student’s grades, and life, creating a better future for kids’ futures.


Jen McDonald

May, 2016