As children, we recall learning the following: multiplication logs, latitude versus longitude, and that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. We remember these just from mere repetition within a fluorescently lit classroom that smells like play dough mixed with an essence of cosmic brownies.
We may dimly recollect memories of music class and “Hot Cross Buns” on the recorder. We still have our hand printed turkey from art class in our box of memories. Of course, these arts bring upon nostalgia as they were classes that broke the day in half and let us go home with a new talent.
However, despite knowing how to fingerpaint and how to play a song on the recorder, we could never name a Botticelli painting from a Michelangelo painting.
We never learned about Renaissance art or learned how to read music. We never learned about the opera and how it came to be. We learned basic arts to fulfill the arts requirement in education, but we never truly grasped the meaning of art.
There’s a phenomenon in the American public education that idolizes artists but undervalues their education. American students are underperforming in the arts, according to the 2016 Arts Assessment conducted by the Nation’s Report Card.
Within the statistics, a sample of 8,800 eighth-grade students from public and private schools participated in the evaluation of comprehension based on a series of questions and original work.
Students scored an average 147 in music and 149 in visual arts on a scale of 300, remaining almost stagnant since the last test administered in 2008. The students who scored better were the ones who took art classes or music lessons inside and/or outside of school, visited museums, or attended theater performances — making knowledge on the arts a choice, rather than a requirement.
Not only did students underperform, but they’ll continue doing so under President Trump’s budget plan – a plan that axes public service committees such as the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for National and Community Service.
Despite public backlash, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said at a White House briefing, “Look, we’re not going to ask you for your hard-earned money anymore…unless we can guarantee that money will be used in a proper function — that is about as compassionate as you can get.”
The lackluster response to cutting access to arts education is something that not only affects overall student performance, but, childhood behavior.
An analysis researched by the National Endowment for the Arts demonstrated that increased access to arts education can lead to better grades and higher rates of graduation and college enrollment. The answer is simply the fact that with access to arts education, children enjoy going to school more.
America’s education system has developed a hostile environment for the arts. This hostility will continue widening the gap between the education in America and its European counterparts. Where will tomorrow’s young scholars tread if our politicans aren’t building any roads?