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Monday, November 29, 2021

Opinion

An arts education has value


The value of an arts education

Juana Garcia/The Cougar

These days, there is so much focus on STEM education for students. More and more people are encouraged to go into the math and science fields, while an arts education is brushed off as being secondary. The arts are incredibly important to our society and schools should treat it that way. 

The arts are always in danger of being cut from public education. It’s an age-old problem where when schools face budget cuts, the arts are always the first to go. Meanwhile, schools are working to get grants for more STEM classes. 

Of course, it’s great there are more STEM programs in grade schools now. Children should have more options to explore their scientific interests with. But, what about the kids who aren’t good at math or science and are interested in painting or dancing? Where are their options?

Many schools faced budget cuts from COVID-19, and as per usual, arts programs have been struggling. Even when schools received congressional aid, schools have historically neglected funding the arts. The federal government also doesn’t prioritize funding non-science and math programs at academic institutions. 

Even going from COVID-19, arts opportunities at schools have declined, according to teachers. When schools do have arts programs, they are often not well rounded with most elementary schools focusing on music but not on dance, theatre, or visual arts.

Children should have numerous options to explore because while they’re young they can establish a relationship with the arts. If their interest is something other than music, they should still be able to explore that interest. 

It’s important to examine why the arts do not receive as much funding as math and science. One reason is many people don’t consider the arts to be of value. Politicians have implied the arts and even humanities-based education are useless. Math and science education creates engineers, scientists and doctors. These jobs make decent money and are deemed very important in society. 

These jobs are important, of course, but so are artistic careers.

Almost everyone listens to music and watches TV. Even if they don’t actively seek to consume art, they consume it anyway when looking at advertisements and products packaging. An artist created the logo for every brand. Someone designed the clothes people wear and the furniture people use.

Art is found everywhere in life, even if it isn’t obvious. 

While the arts industry is definitely more competitive than others, and may not pay as well if you don’t make it big as celebrities do, it still has value. The arts were put on the back burner during budget cuts from COVID-19, yet many people consumed and created art during quarantine through binging TV shows, drawing, writing music and more. 

Even if people don’t want to be in the arts as a career, an arts education can still be beneficial for students.

Countless studies show arts education can improve graduation rates and test scores. Arts education can also help improve reading, math and science skills. Despite all the benefits, kids are taking fewer arts classes than they used to. 

The arts are clearly important for kids and society, so it should be treated as such in schools. Schools need to make more of an effort to expand arts programs to have as many options for students as they do for sports and STEM. 

Anna Baker is an English senior who can be reached at [email protected]

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