Got Art?

PTA Start the Arts Week—September 15-19, 2014—is the official Reflections kick-off celebration to promote the benefits of arts education. During Start the Arts Week, PTA invites students, teachers, families, schools and communities to celebrate and participate in the arts. We celebrate this week in conjunction with National Arts in Education Week.

Sandra Ruppert is Director of the Arts Education Partnership (AEP).

Sandra Ruppert is Director of the Arts Education Partnership (AEP).

Another school year has started. You’ve likely checked and double-checked your children’s backpacks to make sure they have their lunch, notebooks, pencils, and textbooks before letting them run out to catch the bus. But have you checked for their flute or paint brushes? Do they even need them?

Unfortunately, for many students across the country, the answer is no. The U.S. Department of Education’s survey data reveal that millions of students attend schools that provide limited or no access to arts education opportunities. This is despite the fact that we are accumulating more and better evidence all the time about the multi-faceted and beneficial outcomes associated with learning in and through the arts for all students.

As we get ready to kick off another National Arts in Education Week, what can you, as parents, do to ensure that your children receive a complete and competitive education that includes the arts? Here are a few steps to consider:

Investigate your arts education policies

Find out about your state’s arts standards and what else your state requires at ArtScan on the AEP website, then ask what your school or school district is actually providing to students. If there are disparities between what’s required and what’s being offered, find out why and go from there to explore what can be done to ensure all kids are receiving a high quality education that includes the arts.

Know the benefits of an arts education

A growing body of knowledge documents that, in addition to academic outcomes, an education in the arts contributes directly to the success in all areas of school, work, and life. AEP’s most recent research bulletin, Preparing Students for the Next America: The Benefits of an Arts Education provides an overview of many of these benefits.

If you want a little more depth, is AEP’s one-stop shop for research about the educational outcomes associated with arts learning across arts forms and grade levels, both in and out of school. We developed ArtsEdSearch because there was nothing else like it, where high quality research is available in one place, readily accessible, and easily understandable.

Make a case for the arts

Overall, one key challenge we face is how to shape and influence both public and political will to ensure that the arts in education matter. Depending on your audience, be prepared to make a strong case that includes at least three key points related to the role and contribution of the arts:

  1. Academic achievement and student success
  2. Economic development and workforce preparation
  3. Quality of life and civic engagement

A balanced education that includes the arts as an essential component is vital to ensuring that all students are graduate ready for college, career, and citizenship. Take these few steps to help ensure that your child has the arts education necessary for him or her to succeed!

AEP LogoSandra Ruppert is Director of the Arts Education Partnership (AEP), which is part of the Council of Chief State School Officers, a Washington DC-based nonprofit and nonpartisan membership organization representing the top leaders of state education agencies.