Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Arts education in peril

Not surprisingly, more news about gutting arts education in public schools.  

Under the NCLB, arts education was listed as a core subject for the first time in federal education law. But reports released over the past several months have documented that arts classes are getting squeezed out of schools because the federal law doesn't require that students be tested for their proficiency in art, music, dance or drama.

In addition, because many people see the arts as "academic frills," these classes often have been the first to be cut as cash-strapped school districts are forced to make tough budget choices.

As a result, art, music and other arts classes are at risk of becoming a "lost curriculum," said Brenda Welburn, executive director of the National Association of State Boards of Education.

The evidence:
A recent report by the Council for Basic Education, a Washington-based education nonprofit, found that schools are spending substantially less time on the arts, as well as social studies, civics, geography, and languages since NCLB became law.

The report, billed as the first to examine how NCLB is influencing instructional time in key subject areas, said such a trend is worrisome in light of research showing that active involvement in music, art and other arts subjects helps students do better in more traditional academic subjects.

In addition, the report, titled "Academic Atrophy: The Condition of the Liberal Arts in America's Public Schools," found that schools with large numbers of minority students have been particularly affected by cutbacks in art education classes.

"Truly high expectations cannot begin and end with mathematics, science and reading," the report's authors stated.

The DOE response requires some sort of decoder ring.   
Michael Petrilli, a senior U.S. Department of Education official, said NCLB isn't meant to undercut support for the arts. "While accountability in the law is focused on reading and math, the two most basic subjects, there is a lot in the law that supports other academic subjects, such as the arts," Petrilli said.

"The spirit of No Child Left Behind is to make sure that every child in America gets the kind of well-rounded education once reserved for children of the elite," Petrilli added.
Orwellian tripe.

Petrilli needs to be pushed into providing more info on what he sees as a 'lot in the law' helping arts education.  Saying that the intent of the law is to provide a good education for all doesn't make me feel any better when the results say something else.