Patrons of art education reside in some surprising places

Patrons of art education reside in some surprising places

(Colo.) A new national survey on art education policies found some surprisingly strong commitment in states not known for creative expression and some states that are were shown lacking.

Alabama, for instance, scored higher on the survey of 13 key instructional requirements than California, Connecticut and New York. While Utah, Montana and Arkansas all scored better than Hawaii, Michigan and Massachusetts.

The report, issued by the Arts Education Partnership in conjunction with the Education Commission of the States, relied on a matrix of 13 policy areas judged to be critical to keeping art education a focal point of K-12 curriculum.

Included in the survey is whether states have an arts education instructional requirement; if states mandate students take a minimum number of art courses to graduate from high school; certification requirements for art teachers; and whether arts are included as part of the core curriculum.

Supporters argue that while the disciplines of visual arts, music, dance and the theatre may not serve as the cornerstone of many regional economies, they are nonetheless integral to society and important in developing well-rounded education.

Among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, just two met 12 of the survey’s 13 benchmarks—Minnesota and New Hampshire. Alabama was second by virtue of meeting 11 out of 13.

Six states—California, Connecticut, Montana, Ohio, Rhode Island and New Jersey—met all but three.

On the other end of the scale, the District of Columbia and Michigan met only six of the requirements; Hawaii just seven; and Delaware only eight.

All 51 entities surveyed met two of the  benchmarks: adoption of an early learner arts education standard; and arts education standards for elementary and secondary schools.

Only 16 states had a requirement that art be included in annual statewide assessments. Just 17 have a requirement that art education be a part of the curriculum for a school to receive state accreditation.

Only 20 states allow students to substitute art course credits as an option to fulfil graduation requirements.

Perhaps surprisingly, 29 states identify arts education as a core academic subject. And 27 states require arts education courses for high school graduation.

Meanwhile, 22 states either directly fund arts education or provide a state-funded school for the arts.

After being devastated by spending cuts during the recession, school budgets for the arts are making somewhat of a comeback, both on a state and national level.

Last year, Congressional leaders rejected the Trump administration’s proposal to eliminate federal money for arts programs and instead included a small boost to both the National Endowment for the Arts and the Humanities endowment.

The spending bill adopted just last month added a similar amount to both agencies.

According to its 2016 annual report, the National Endowment of the Arts provided grants that supported 30,000 concerts, readings, and performances, and more than 3,000 exhibitions of visual and media arts, with annual, live attendance of approximately 20 million.