How Important is Art Education?

When schools have budget shortfalls, one of the first programs to be cut is art.  Granted, art is not as critical as reading at grade level, but it still is important.

How important?  A struggling school in a tough neighborhood of Bridgeport, Connecticut credits music, dance and painting for a significant academic improvement.  Not that all the problems are solved, but the improvements are tangible.  And as schools search for ways to find a better balance among subjects, art education may provide the key.

The Bridgeport school was a pre-K-8 named Roosevelt that was originally slated for closure in 2010.  But the school was one of the few local resources for children, so the neighborhood rallied to save it.  A federal School Improvement Grant was obtained, a new principal was hired, and half the staff was replaced to create an arts theme.  The school moved into temporary quarters while a new building was built.  Programs were started in visual arts, dance, theater and music (it hadn’t had a band in 17 years).

Since then, out-of-school suspensions were down 61 percent and in-school suspensions were down 44 percent by 2013, and  reading proficiency went up about 22 percent, although math scores are still stagnant.

This is actually part of a national program called Turnaround Arts, led by the President’s Committee on Arts and Humanities.  The program has grown nationally to serve 27,000 children in 49 schools in the 2015-16 school year, and is still expanding. (http://turnaroundarts.pcah.gov/what-we-do/)

So just how important is art education anyway?

The original article can be found at http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Education/2016/0827/The-school-that-art-saved

 

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