Art education has largely been cut from curriculums in the United States to make room for more time to prepare for standardized testing. When the No Child Left Behind Act was passed in 2001, the focus was placed on core subjects like reading and math, and funding was rerouted away from art departments.
Funding being directed away from these types of classes led to only 83% of U.S. schools offering visual art programs in 2010. While that is still a good amount, a lot of these programs are severely underfunded.
This underfunding has put less stress on students to take classes in fine arts. Jefferson County public schools require all high school students to have only a half-credit of visual art, music, or theatre to graduate. Despite this requirement, there is still a lot of wiggle room to get around having to actually take a fine art class.
Mrs. Dalton, A-West’s jewelry and ceramics teacher says, “Now there is more wiggle room with what students can take to fulfill this requirement outside of the arts, which is sad because art and music are essential to student development- problem-solving, perseverance, creativity, etc.”
Art helps the development of motor, language, and social skills as well as things like risk-taking and creative problem-solving. These are all key skills for life that can be useful in any field of work as well as in everyday life.
“I’ve had many students who pursue engineering, medicine & dentistry in college that have reached out post-graduation to tell me how important ceramics was to prepare them for school.” Dalton comments.
Art education being readily available has a huge, positive impact on other academics as well. Americans for the Arts reports that students who regularly participate in the arts are more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, participate in math or science fairs, or win an award for their writing. A study from the Colorado Creative Industry revealed that public high schools in Colorado that offer art education have higher scores on state tests in reading, writing, and science.
Arvada West offers a wide range of fine arts programs and students should be encouraged to take more of these classes. There are a lot of benefits to art education that can be applied to other academics and real-life and students should take more of these classes.