Why the Need for Arts in Schools?

When children express themselves through words, pictures, music, dance and other art forms, they grow intellectually and socially. They learn to analyze their thoughts, feelings, and ideas; learn to look at things, people, and experiences in a fresh and exciting way; and become more interested in the ideas and works of others.

Reflections Photography 2011

An important part of any arts committee is advocating for the arts in our schools. Virginia PTA believes that the arts, music, dance, drama, and visual arts are central to learning. Infusion of the arts in elementary and secondary education curricula is key to the development of students. We support programs that promote public awareness of the arts and arts education and the integration of the arts in school curriculum requirements -- without cutting funding from existing programs -- as part of the K - 12 curriculum at all schools.

Research has shown that “arts education increases interest in academic learning, cognitive and basic skills development, and the development of academic achievement skills” (R.R. Konrad, Empathy, Arts, and Social Studies, 2000).

Despite these findings and the inclusion of arts as one of the “core academic subjects” in the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), many schools faced with tightening budgets fail to fund arts programs. Schools that provide little or no arts education are denying students the opportunity to master skills that will best prepare them for the highly competitive labor market of the 21st century. Arts education is a fundamental component of comprehensive learning for grades K-12

The report from the Center for Education Policy concludes that, since the enactment of NCLB, instructional time for art and music has been reduced by 22 percent. This at a time when parents, employers, and civic leaders are demanding improvements to the learning environment that will make our schools places where all learners will access a complete education and opportunities to succeed. These demands cannot be met without comprehensive arts education in our nation’s schools.

As part of the 2009 Legislation Program and Virginia PTA Positions, our members supported the legislation that Virginia PTA seeks legislation that funds the expansion and integration of Arts Education into all core curricula subjects beyond the Visual Arts Standards of Learning (SOL), and the position, Virginia PTA supports the expansion and improvement of activities that will prepare teachers to incorporate the arts into the curriculum of academic subjects to supplement and engage students in learning.

Parent Magazine, who partners with PTA in supporting the PTA Reflections Program, has an excellent article entitled, “Why Arts Makes Kids Smarter”. Read the article.

*Artwork by 2010-2011 Reflections Winners