President Obama once said, “The future belongs to young people with an education and the imagination to create.” Without arts as a staple of education teaching young people how to use their imagination where does that leave the future? Hundreds of art programs across the country are being cut due to lack of funding in our education systems.
In today’s world of high stakes testing, art is in danger of being pushed aside as a non-essential subject. School administrators are faced with tough decisions when it comes to making budget cuts. They need to put financial backing into subjects that are tested in nation-wide assessments in order to get more federal funding or even just to stay open.
A 2005 report by the Rand Corporation about the visual arts argues that the intrinsic pleasures and stimulation of the art experience do more than sweeten an individual’s life. According to the report, they “can connect people more deeply to the world and open them to new ways of seeing,” creating the foundation to forge social bonds and community cohesion. And strong arts programming in schools helps close a gap that has left many a child behind: From Mozart for babies to tutus for toddlers to family trips to the museum, the children of affluent, aspiring parents generally get exposed to the arts whether or not public schools provide them. Low-income children, often, do not. “Arts education enables those children from a financially challenged background to have a more level playing field with children who have had those enrichment experiences,” says Eric Cooper, president and founder of the National Urban Alliance for Effective Education.
Budget shortcomings are costing American children their arts education. At the expense of this loss are the creative outlets for millions of children, and the overworking of art teachers. Budget makers and politicians see math and reading as the gold standard of education, but fail to see the enormous benefits of art education.