December 18, 2009
The arts are essential to every child's education, which is why the arts are one of the core academic subjects in the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Some schools, facing tight local budgets, are cutting arts programs and blaming the cuts on NCLB. In a letter to state and local superintendents, Secretary of Education Rod Paige said that cutting arts is "disturbing and just plain wrong."
Similar to English, math, science and the other core subjects, the arts (dance, music, theater, and visual arts) are challenging subjects with rigorous content and achievement standards at the state and national levels. They require highly qualified teachers who challenge all students, not just those who are considered artistically talented, to perform works of art, create their own works, and respond to works of art and the ideas they impart.
In addition to studying the arts for their own sake, experiencing and making works of art benefits students in their intellectual, personal, and social development, and can be particularly beneficial for students from economically disadvantaged circumstances and those who are at risk of not succeeding in school. Research studies point to strong relationships between learning in the arts and fundamental cognitive skills and capacities used to master other core subjects, including reading, writing, and mathematics.