Claire B.

Arts Education

The defunding of arts programs is an increasing problem and leads to an under appreciation and neglect of the arts.

Dear Mr./Mrs. President,

Though not the most pressing issue that currently plagues our country, the defunding of arts and humanities programs is an injustice directly affecting a large portion of high school and college students. As someone who has a great love for Art History, film, and everything arts and humanities related, it is deeply troubling to see a defunding of these programs. How am I suppose to feel secure in my future if my chosen major is unexpectedly cut and my future career plans are hopelessly dashed?

I have recently seen an increase in cuts in arts and humanities programs in high schools and colleges, mostly stemming from budget cuts and a lack of interest demonstrated from students in certain programs. While I understand the need to cut programs in order to stay within a given budget, I do not understand why it is always the arts that are cut and treated as dispensable classes. A survey released by the National Center for Education Statistics uncovered that the percentage of elementary schools making theater and dance available dropped from 20% to 4-3% for the 2009-2010 school year. The same study also stated that more than 40% of high schools did not require arts classes to be completed as graduation requirements. These studies show that art classes are being treated as if there is nothing valuable to be learned from them, which could not be farther from the truth. The arts teach us the value of self-expression, show us the perspectives of others, and allow us to think critically and creatively. These skills, to me, are some of the most valuable skills we can attain as human beings to help us apply ourselves in the real world. By cutting fine arts programs we are taking away spaces that have allowed us to forget the structure of our science classes for 50 minutes and just focus on and learn about ourselves as human beings. 

However, budget cuts are not the only factor that has led to the defunding of arts and humanities programs. There has also been a lack of interest on the part of students in a number of these classes. A study performed by the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, there has been an 8.7% decline in degrees earned in the arts and humanities departments. While some of the decrease can just be chalked up to a genuine disinterest in arts on behalf of some students, others have been persuaded by society to believe that there is no lucrative career path in the arts and so have opted out of that path. Societal pressures have pushed teens to view the arts as hobbies and pastimes, instead of legitimate career paths including including film making, artists, curating, and musicians. Perhaps, if the arts were treated with more respect, more students would be interested in taking on jobs in the art industry.  A lack of interest in arts careers stemming from societal pressures to choose more "lucrative" jobs has negatively impacted student enrollment within the arts curriculum.  

The defunding of arts programs due to ineffective budgeting tactics and poor societal treatment of arts careers have led to an undervalue and cutting of important arts programs that help to develop young students and provide them with effective tools used in real world situations.