Thursday, April 5, 2012

neatoday article on Arts Education

From the National Education Association, April 5th, 2012:

The U.S. Department of Education painted a somewhat bleak picture of the state of arts education in America’s schools this week. According to new findings - the first government survey in a decade that tracks the availability of arts in schools – fewer elementary schools are offering visual arts, dance and drama classes than during a decade ago

The DOE’s report come on the heels of a recent study by the National Endowment for the Arts that specifically tracked the impact arts has on economically disadvantaged students. These students who have access to arts in or out of school tend to have better academic results, better workforce opportunities, and more civic engagement, according to the report. Specifically, low-income students who had arts-rich experiences in high school were ten percent more likely to complete, for example, a high school calculus course than similar students who had less exposure to the arts.

In addition, economically-disadvantaged students who had exposure to the arts were more likely to have planned to earn a bachelor’s degree (74 percent) than were economically-disadvantaged students with little or no access to the arts (43 percent).

All this is a result of the ill-fated "No Child Left Behind Act". Schools are so busy teaching to the tests, they don't have time to teach kids how to think. It is missing the forest for the trees. In the mean time, you've got stuff like the Common Core State Standards, which states:

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). The standards were developed in collaboration with teachers, school administrators, and experts, to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare our children for college and the workforce.

This seems to me to be just more of the same. Standardized testing is the antithesis of creative studies. The very effort to "prepare our children for college and the workforce" is resulting in fewer of them attending those colleges and having fewer workforce opportunities.

Oh the irony. As Katherine Damkohler points out over on Artsblog, "Currently, and in the near future, the dialog within schools focuses upon the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The shifts that are required to implement the CCSS are vital for arts partners to understand."

So in order to get the Arts anywhere near schools, you have to couch them in language relating to these "standards". Forget the Arts for their own sake. The Arts must somehow conform to the banality of standards designed to do what the arts inherently do, yet standards that miss the mark entirely.

1 comment:

  1. Great post. I've sent my child to a private school for three reasons: no standardized tests, bad public schools in neighborhood (and couldn't getin charter schools via lottery), lots of green space. okay, there are more reasons but these three were key. Best- Joe