For the past several years, arts advocates have been making their case for the benefits of arts in the education system at a time when many American’s are consumed with a market-driven culture and schools are focused on meeting federal standards. Art brings joy and evokes our humanity, these advocates claim.
Although joy and humanity are valuable on any level, there’s more to it than that. Strengthening the case for the arts has become increasingly essential. School budget cuts and the move toward standardized testing have profoundly threatened the role of the arts in schools. Under the No Child Left Behind Act, passed in 2002, the federal government started assessing school districts by their students’ scores on reading and mathematics tests.
As a result, according to a study by the Center on Education Policy, school districts across the United States increased the time they devoted to tested subjects—reading/language arts and math—while cutting spending on non-tested subjects such as the visual arts and music. The more a school fell behind, by NCLB standards, the more time and money was devoted to those tested subjects, with less going to the arts.