The interesting thing about the debate on arts education is its conspicuous absence from the decade-long debate on American education.
The education debate has been about enabling every child to learn; about reading and math test scores; about qualified teachers; about charter schools; about after-school programs - all very important things.
Yet the education debate has been silent on the topic of arts education.
Why? There are many reasons.
A generation of educators missed out on their own arts learning experiences when budget cuts in the 1970s and 1980s stretched into an arts education drought.
Thoughtful efforts to place a high priority on reading and math morphed into the mistaken view that other priorities are dispensable.
And the arts have been tagged as another special interest group instead of a part of everyday life.
But when we all step back from the education debate and its budget battles, there is actually widespread agreement on two big reasons arts education should be part of our education debate:
Arts learning - both in and out of school - opens the door to a lifetime of experiences that most young people will miss if they don't step through that door during their school years.
And their passage through that doorway opens up learning experiences that are deeply valued by nearly everyone - including learning about captivating and engaging creative experiences (from Scott Joplin's The Entertainer to Alvin Ailey's Revelations);
sharing meaning with and from the many communities to which Americans belong (from
the jazz greats to Maya Lin's Vietnam Memorial); and empathy with people we have not met (as in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman).
Ample reasons for putting arts education back into our national debate about education.
Sam Hope, executive director, The National Office for Arts Accreditation (NOAA);
Jack Lew, Global University Relations Manager for Art Talent at EA;
Laura Zakaras, RAND;
James Cuno, Director, Art Institute of Chicago;
Richard Kessler, Executive Director, Center for Arts Education;
Eric Booth, Actor;
Bau Graves, Executive director, Old Town School of Folk Music;
Bennett Reimer, Founder of the Center for the Study of Education and the Musical Experience, author of A Philosophy of Music Education;
Edward Pauly, the director of research and evaluation at the Wallace Foundation;
Moy Eng, Program Director of the Performing Arts Program at The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation;
John Rockwell, critic;
Susan Sclafani, Managing Director, Chartwell Education Group;
Jane Remer, Author, Educator, Researcher
Michael Hinojosa, General Superintendent, Dallas Independent School District
Peter Sellars, director
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