As a public school educator who supports arts education, it’s important to have a strong relationship with your legislators. You have the ability to act as a resource by providing elected officials with research about the proven value of the arts. And by being an advocate for arts education, you’ll support your students’ and community’s needs. Plus, you can speak to them not only as an educator, but also as a voter in their district.
As you prepare to talk with state and local officials, arm yourself with compelling and memorable facts. For example, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 2001, also known as No Child Left Behind, recognizes the arts as a core subject—just as important as language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, and foreign language. Be clear with legislators―the arts are not extracurricular activities; they’re fundamental parts of a high-quality education.
Use Data to Drive Your Message
The good news is that there is research to support your message. Arts Education Partnership’s (AEP) study Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Academic and Social Development, a compendium of more than 60 studies, examines the effectiveness of arts education in strengthening reading skills, math skills, and student behavior. Among the findings: the arts promote regular attendance; aid student engagement; and support acquisition of oral language skills, cognitive development, and creative thinking. In addition, the discipline and learning methods taught in arts education strengthen skills in other areas of learning, allowing students to successfully apply them to other subjects and future job opportunities. And educators use arts integration strategies to teach other subjects in ways that motivate students—even the hard-to-reach learners.
For students coming from disadvantaged circumstances, the arts help level the playing field. According to another research study from AEP titled Champions of Change: The Impact of the Arts on Learning, the arts can reach students who are disengaged with school, providing a reason to stay in school and aiding students with different learning styles.
Policymakers need to understand the huge influence that the arts have on our children. The mastery, confidence, and skills they acquire through arts education help all students achieve and provide them with valuable preparation for the 21st century workforce. You can learn to advocate for arts education to help educate the children in your community.