To a lot of us the arts are a crucial part of life in and of themselves. To judge the arts in terms of economic value or contribution to society seems both to miss the point and to handicap the arguments in their favor. In public policy, however, lots of tough decisions have to be made, and every possible angle must be explored to sway decision-makers.
That’s why I think this study from the Center for Arts Education is so important.
In New York City, the cultural capital of the world, public school students do not enjoy equal access to an arts education. In fact, in schools with the lowest graduation rates—where the arts could have the greatest impact—students have the least opportunity to participate in arts learning.
This report takes the first ever look at the relationship between school-based arts education and high school graduation rates in New York City public schools. The findings, based on data collected by the New York City Department of Education (DOE), strongly suggest that the arts play a key role in keeping students in high school and graduating on time…
Analyzing data from more than 200 New York City schools over a two-year period, this report shows that schools in the top third in graduation rates offered their students the most access to arts education and the most resources that support arts education. Schools in the bottom third in graduation rates consistently offer the least access and fewest resources.
It’s nerdy, but you can find the whole study here. With statistics about the arts flying around, this study seems like a concrete way of judging the power of the arts in human life. You have to hope that this will spark some action in a positive direction.