The Influence of Arts in Education: a Problem Analysis

Topics: Art, Education, SAT Pages: 12 (4266 words) Published: November 8, 2011
In an educational system strapped for money and increasingly ruled by standardized tests, arts courses can seem almost a needless extravagance, and the arts are being cut back at schools across the country and are routinely one of the first things cut to save money and resources. Since 1993, when legislators imposed revenue caps on public schools, school districts have been forced to make some hard decisions about ways they distribute spending. Music and art programs were usually those which become expendable programs. The American boards of education have dictated that the emphasis in education should be on math, science, and reading, and therefore they cut back on other programs. The intense focus on the basic skills is a sea of change in American instructional practice, with many schools that once offered rich curriculums now systematically trimming courses like social studies, science and particularly art (Dillon, 2006). The federal government through the U.S. Department of Education and the National Endowment for the Arts has maintained a consistent connection with arts education in the public schools over the last 10 years. This has occurred in part through targeted funding for programs—often involving partnerships between schools and community organizations; professional development for teachers and teaching artists; and research and evaluation. The two agencies have cooperated as well in the data collection efforts of the National Center for Education Statistics, which provide important insights into the status and condition of arts education in the country. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) is arguably the most significant federal action to affect arts education, and education generally, in the last decade—if not the last 40 years. This legislation, as with the Goals 2000 law, is an update of the basic federal education law originally enacted in 1965. No Child Left Behind was signed into law in January 2002. It expanded the federal role in education in order “to close the achievement gap between disadvantaged and minority students and their peers.” To comply with the law, states have developed plans to increase student achievement and have set performance goals, which all students are expected to meet by 2013-14 in reading and mathematics. In almost every section of the law, NCLB stresses that decision about the allocation of federal resources for education should be grounded in “scientifically-based research.” The intent, as interpreted by the Department of Education, is to “transform education into an evidence-based field.” In education, high test scores means higher budget. But in a failing economy, schools have to decide what is more important: well flushed out art classes that cannot gather empirical data as to their progression, or having test scores that meet NCLB standard. The crisis of money is real, so because music and the arts aren't government-tested like reading, writing and math are, school districts are pressured into cutting them first. It puts decision makers in a very uncomfortable position because they see the advantages of the arts, but when the students are being tested in some areas and not others, the resources and money tend to follow the testing. The arts programs tend to be cut first for this reason. Most every school where the arts programs are cut, show a decrease in morale and attendance. There is also an increase in vandalism and disruptions, so within a few years, most of them have had to add additional disciplinary staff to handle the problems that were created by not providing a full gamut of knowledge that human beings need. These staff additions cost more than keeping the arts programs in the schools and are hurting testing scores in the process. Usually created by commercial test publishers, standardized tests are designed to give a common measure of students' performance. Because large numbers of students throughout the country take the same test, they give...
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