In July of 2010, the U.S. House of Representatives passed House Resolution #275 designating the second week of September as National Arts in Education Week. The resolution expressed congressional support for arts education: “Whereas arts education, comprising a rich array of disciplines including dance, music, theatre, media arts, literature, design, and visual arts, is a core academic subject and an essential element of a complete and balanced education for all students.”
Why are the arts so important? Here are just a few data points gathered from multiple national studies:
1) A student involved in the arts is four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement.
2) Students with high arts participation and low socioeconomic status have a 4 percent dropout rate—five times lower than their low socioeconomic status peers.
3) Students who take four years of arts and music classes average almost 100 point higher on their SAT scores than students who take only one-half year or less.
4) Low-income students who are highly engaged in the arts are twice as likely to graduate college as their peers with no arts education.
5) 72 percent of business leaders say that creativity is the number one skill they are seeking when hiring.
6) 93 percent of Americans believe that the arts are vital to providing a well-rounded education.
7) The arts are recognized as a core academic subject under the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and 48 states have adopted standards for learning in the arts.
8) Two-thirds of public school teachers believe that the arts are getting crowded out of the school day.
September 9-15, 2018, National Arts in Education Week provides a great opportunity to reflect on the presence of arts in our lives, schools and communities. As the cultural and economic hub of the State, Baltimore City is home to world class arts institutions, a thriving artist community, and several renowned arts universities. Advocates have worked for years to elevate arts education to the caliber of its local arts landscape but too many students never have the opportunity to create and grow through visual art, music, dance, theater, and media art.
Baltimore City Public Schools in partnership with Arts Every Day launched the Baltimore Arts Education Initiative (BAEI) in Fall 2017 in response to the decline of arts education access districtwide. Thanks to the efforts of over 100 educators, advocates, arts partners, parents, students, district, and city leaders, the BAEI resulted in a comprehensive Arts Education Strategic Plan and measurable implementation goals. Under the superb leadership of Superintendent Dr. Sonja Santelises, City Schools adopted the Strategic Plan as a part of its “Blueprint for Success”. BAEI sought to take advantage of unprecedented policy changes and conversations happening at the federal, state, and local levels to re-incorporate arts education as a core education discipline in preK-12 education.
The long-term goal of the initiative is to build, align, and operationalize arts education policies, procedures and resources in Baltimore so that not just some but all students in Baltimore City Schools will experience and benefit from a sequential standards-based arts curriculum, deep expertise and professional experience, and standards-based connections between the arts and other content areas.
The Baltimore Arts Education Initiative is Collective Impact project coordinated by Arts Every Day. This year, as the Initiative moves from planning to implementation, it will require the active engagement of parents, students, community members, and civic leaders. You can help by joining the implementation efforts, participating in your local school’s budget forums, and organizing support with other families and community members. As citizens of Baltimore it is our collective responsibility to ensure that every students graduates with the skills, confidence, and experiences needed to grow artistically, academically, and develop into well-rounded individuals – nourished in body, mind and spirit.
Julia Di Bussolo, Executive Director of Arts Every Day