Art is the Answer
The arts are something schools only really pay attention to if they are proficient in all other subjects. Music, visual arts, drama, and dance are all considered secondary to other “more important” subjects (specifically the ones tested for under the No Child Left Behind movement). This has proven to be the most counterproductive motion one can make in attempt to boost test scores, attendance, and desire to learn. Fran Smith explains, “Years of research show that [art is] closely linked to almost everything that we as a nation say we want for our children and demand from our schools: academic achievement, social and emotional development, civic ...view middle of the document...
In fact, this presence has diminished substantially in the years after this article was published. The National Center for Education Statistics shows that the presence of visual arts has decreased 4 percent from the 1999-2000 school year to the 2009-10 school year; dance’s presence has decreased 17 percent, and theatre’s, 16 percent.
This decline of artistic presence in schools is entirely counterproductive to what schools are being pushed to achieve: higher test scores, better attendance, improved student behavior and desire to learn. These are subjects that schools like Houston’s High School Ahead Academy (HSAA) need to work on. With the student population a grade or more behind, HSAA is not an isolated case; around 60 percent of Texas’s public school students receive free or reduced lunch (Becker). With these poverty rates, these students need the edge an arts education can give them.
Lucky for HSAA, they have a teacher who recognises the importance of integrating arts into education. Educator Rickey Polidore receives the help of Houston Arts Partners and Young Audiences of Houston for assistance in applying the arts to his curriculum. Fractions are taught with mixing paint. Field trips are taken to museums to visually educate students on scientific and historical subjects. Students are offered a reason to come to and enjoy school. This program decreases incidents with students by 21 percent. Not wanting to miss these enjoyable educational experiences, students avoid risk of suspension. (Becker).
Programs like HSAA’s should be spread throughout the nation, particularly to low-income schools. Smith explains in her Edutopia article that any impoverished households cannot feed their children let alone expose them to the arts to allow them the cultural, educational, and social boost they need to compete in the modern economy with wealthier children. No child should be left behind on any subject that would help them compete in the job market.
No Child Left Behind has pushed America into the thralls of academic testing to monitor scholastic skill. In her article, Victoria Tilney suggests the issue that, “Unfortunately, many states base school accreditation on standardized testing scores, so teachers today find it increasingly difficult to find the freedom, time, and resources to integrate the arts into the classroom.” Arizona’s superintendent of public instruction Tom Horne comments on schools’ push to increase test scores at the sake of the arts, “If they’re worried about their test scores and want a way to get them higher, they need to give kids more arts, not less... There’s lots of evidence that kids immersed in the arts do better on their academic tests,” (Smith). It can be a challenge to fit the arts wholeheartedly into every aspect of education, but integrating the music or drama into education in between the exams does not have to be difficult. Colorado primary educator Ruth Mendez assists her students in creating...