In recent years, many school districts have had to make the difficult decision to cut art programs such as drama, music, visual arts, photography, and so on, due to budget cuts and based upon state/national academic priorities.
The decline of arts education and art programs has also raised access issues because budget cuts have fallen to the side. Private and independent schools with access to private or additional financial resources have generally been able to resist budget cuts by raising private capital to subsidize those funds. And where has the decline of the arts education been felt the most? It's been felt most severely in low income/low performing schools.
Incorporating education in the arts into the curriculum can benefit all students, and it can have some secondary benefits, such as improving student achievement.
There have been a number of schools that have put the arts into their curriculum and have seen a boost in attendance, as well as performance in many subjects such as English, math, and others
For example, a public middle school in the Bronx have been using arts integration methods quite effectively. This school participated in a four-year arts integration program with amazing results and it's one of the lowest income districts in New York!
The school went from no art instruction to instruction with multi-faceted lesson plans that supported arts inclusion. So what was the result? Over a 9% improvement in math scores, 8% improvement in Language Arts scores, and much less absenteeism. They're correlating this to the positive emotional effect the arts has on these kids and gives them more of a desire to go to school.
So what's the takeaway? Instead of treating the arts as separate from other classroom endeavors, it should be valued equally with other studies since it can have a positive effect on them, improving traditional subjects like science, math, and language.
Rekindling the arts into the curriculum benefits all students. There are a number of nonprofits that focus on bringing the arts to lower income communities where a lot of these programs are being cut.
Here is a list you can support:
Here is a list of more