Education Letter to the Editor

Cutbacks in Arts Education Are a Reality

May 22, 2012 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

Your recent news report on arts education might lead readers to conclude that K-12 programs have not been harmed by a decade of high-stakes testing (“No Obituary Needed for Arts Education, Data Suggest,” April 18, 2012).

Wrong. The data from a survey by the National Center for Education Statistics was gathered four years ago for secondary schools and three years ago for elementary schools, and sometimes compared with data from about a decade ago. Even if technically adequate, the report is out of date on arrival.

The NCES survey cannot inform policy because it is so out of sync with major changes in education. Among these are acute budget shortfalls and new high-stakes tests required for Race to the Top and federal school improvement funding. In 45 states, teachers and students have 1,600 new common-core standards in math and English to meet, plus new standards for other subjects.

The NCES survey leaves us with few conclusions about arts education beyond restating the sad and obvious: Policymakers do not expect coherent and systematic studies in the arts at every grade, and least of all in high-poverty schools.

Cutbacks in arts education are not a fiction. In the 2011 MetLife Survey of the American Teacher, 23 percent of teachers reported reductions or eliminations of art or music programs during the past 12 months. These cuts were deeper in schools with enrollments that were more than two-thirds minority students than otherwise, 30 percent vs. 19 percent.

In the last 18 months, I have gathered 400 press reports about cuts.

Some NCES survey questions allow the National Endowment for the Arts to track the part-time employment of artists in schools, but officials at the endowment and the U.S. Department of Education have not expressed much concern about proliferating cuts and policies that severely limit studies in the arts in schools.

Laura H. Chapman

Cincinnati, Ohio

The writer is a distinguished fellow of the National Art Education Association.

A version of this article appeared in the May 23, 2012 edition of Education Week as Cutbacks in Arts Education Are a Reality

Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Schools Get the Brunt of Latest COVID Wave in South Carolina
In the past few weeks, South Carolina has set records for COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases have approached peak levels of last winter.
4 min read
Two Camden Elementary School students in masks listen as South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster talks about steps the school is taking to fight COVID-19, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Camden, S.C. McMaster has adamantly and repeatedly come out against requiring masks in schools even as the average number of daily COVID-19 cases in the state has risen since early June. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
Education More States Are Requiring Schools to Teach Native American History and Culture
Advocates say their efforts have gained some momentum with the nation’s reckoning over racial injustice since the killing of George Floyd.
3 min read
A dancer participates in an intertribal dance at Schemitzun on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation in Mashantucket, Conn., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. Connecticut and a handful of other states have recently decided to mandate students be taught about Native American culture and history. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP