ARTS EDUCATION THROUGH THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

WHEREAS, in 1994, Congress and the White House broke new ground with GOALS 2000 national education goals legislation by including in federal law recognition of the arts as a core subject within a substantive curriculum. This recognition has since opened the door for schools and community partners to access support for arts education through the various K-12 programs of the U.S. Department of Education (USED); and

WHEREAS, Congress passed and the President of the United States signed into law this year the new Elementary and Secondary Education reauthorization act, No Child Left Behind, which formally carried forward recognition of the arts as a core academic subject, but places an extraordinary emphasis on student testing in reading, writing and math; and

WHEREAS, a child's education is not complete unless it includes the arts. A comprehensive strategy for a complete education includes high-quality, sequential instruction in the classroom, as well as participation and learning in community-based arts programs. Active participation and learning in the arts improve overall academic achievement, socialization, and preparation for college and the workforce; and

WHEREAS, historically, inner-city and rural children have not had the same opportunities as children living in wealthier suburban school districts to learn in, through and about the arts. Public schools have the responsibility for providing a complete education for all children. Students face challenges in knowing how to communicate in many ways, and schools must prepare them to meet the challenges; and

WHEREAS, the Arts Education Partnership recently released a new compendium of arts education research entitled, Critical Links, analyzing 62 rigorous studies and revealing the measurable links between learning in the arts and improved academic achievement, positive social development, and enhanced motivation towards learning; and

WHEREAS, arts education research findings in Critical Links suggest the following:

  • •The arts help close the achievement gap. The studies suggest that for young children, students from economically disadvantaged circumstances, and students needing remedial instruction, learning in the arts may be uniquely able to boost learning and academic achievement.
  • The arts improve the academic skills essential for reading and language development. Certain forms of arts instruction enhance and complement basic reading instruction by associating letters, words, and phrases with sounds, sentences, and meanings. And, dramatic enactments by young children also are shown to produce more effective writing.
  • •The arts build strong mathematical skills. Studies have shown that certain music instruction that includes training in keyboard skills, develops spatial reasoning and spatial-temporal reasoning skills, which are fundamental to understanding and using mathematical ideas and concepts.
  • The arts advance the motivation to learn. Motivation and the aspiration to pursue and sustain learning are essential to achievement in all areas of life. Learning in the arts nurtures these capacities, including active engagement, disciplined and sustained attention, persistence, and increases attendance and educational aspirations.
  • The arts promote positive social development. Studies of student learning experiences in drama, music, dance and multi-arts activities show student growth in self-confidence, self-control, self-identity, conflict resolution, collaboration, empathy and social tolerance; and

WHEREAS, the arts also have a measurable impact on youth at risk in deterring delinquent behavior and truancy problems while increasing overall academic performance among those youth engaged in after-school and summer arts programs targeted towards delinquency prevention; and

WHEREAS, the President has proposed substantial funding for No Child Left Behind education reform with an emphasis on testing in reading, writing and math; however, zero funding has been proposed for the Arts in Education section of this bill. Last year, Congress appropriated $30 million in grant programs for the Arts in Education section to help develop models of rigorous arts education programs in the schools, to support the ongoing arts education work of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and VSA arts, and to provide professional development of arts educators,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the United States Conference of Mayors urges Congress to appropriate $36 million to the Arts in Education section, in the U.S. Department of Education's Fund for Improvement of Education, in the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Bill for fiscal year 2003. We further urge local school districts and administrators to maximize use of available federal education funds to deliver high quality arts instruction and to integrate the arts into other core subjects.