The arts are an important part of a well-rounded education for all students. All of the arts – dance, music, theatre, and the visual arts – are essential to preparing our nation’s young people for a global economy fueled by innovation and creativity and for a social discourse that demands communication in images and sound as well as in text.
The importance of arts education is celebrated each year during March through Dance in the Schools Month, Music in Our Schools Month, Theatre in Our Schools Month, and Youth Art Month. Throughout the country, student presentations in local communities will showcase how the arts infuse creativity and innovation into learning. The month also presents an opportunity to acknowledge the arts specialists who help students reach high standards in the arts, while also serving their school communities as “chief creative officers” who collaborate with classroom teachers to integrate the arts with other core subjects.
Research shows that arts-rich schools – ones that provide opportunities for students to experience the arts in deep and meaningful ways and to make curricular connections with math, science, and the humanities – are more engaging for students. As we strive to increase high school graduation rates and ensure that all students are college and career-ready, we know that students who attend arts-rich schools are more likely to stay in school and go on to graduate from college.
Let’s use this month to not only celebrate arts learning, but to also determine the health of our K-12 arts education programs. Where they need strengthening – and especially where they don’t currently exist – now is the time to make the arts a vital part of a complete education for all students.
Arne Duncan is U.S. Secretary of Education