Part of Governor Dayton’s budget focused on investments in education, especially for early childhood. This comes as welcome news to many parents, principals and teachers after years of underfunding and cuts.
One area that’s seen its share of slashes in recent times is the arts-despite the fact that Minnesota mandates arts education in certain grade levels, including one arts credit to graduate high school.
Recently, Minnesota 2020 visited the Perpich Center for Arts Education, the state agency overseeing Minnesota’s arts curriculum and providing statewide arts education outreach. It also houses Perpich Center Arts High School.
Diane Aldis, the state’s dance education coordinator talked about the importance of incorporating arts within the curriculum as a mechanism for enhancing achievement in “core” subjects such as history, science and math.
One of the key aspects of 21st century education is getting students to work in groups. However, with the classroom’s time constraints, students’ are rarely taught what comprises effective group dynamics. Instead, students often learn these skills, like finding classmates’ strengths and challenges, becoming effective group leaders, carrying out individual roles and thinking of creative ways to present information while in a theater or dance production.
In addition to arts advocates at Perpich, a number of studies reflect the arts’ importance in education. A 2008 Colorado Department of Education report found a direct correlation between enhanced, fine arts programs and higher test scores in science, reading, and writing.
Furthermore, this study concluded that such formal arts programs lead to lower dropout rates, augmented parental involvement in student activities, and help to better prepare students for higher education and the workforce.
While some may see the arts as expendable during tight budget times, doing away with the fine arts in any capacity would serve as great disservice to Minnesota’s children, and in turn, to ourselves. The arts enhance our overall education system. Their absence would create a tough void to fill.