Every Child Needs the Arts

“Every child needs the arts,” a senior Education Department official told a group of arts educators at an event earlier this month.

Peter Cunningham, ED’s assistant secretary for communications and outreach and an accomplished guitar player, noted that the arts are an essential part of a well-rounded education that prepares students for success in the 21st Century workforce.

Students performing at an arts in education event at ED earlier this month.

At the April 6 event, educators, artists, and representatives of nonprofits from New Jersey and California discussed how integrating the arts into the core curriculum can raise academic achievement and foster skills young people need to confidently become innovative leaders of the future.

The Educational Arts Team, a Jersey-City (N.J.) based nonprofit that works with Jersey City Public Schools, and the Dramatic Results team, a community-based nonprofit that works with the Long Beach Unified School District in Long Beach, Calif., gave spirited presentations that shared their successful results of infusing the arts into learning.

Both groups are grantees under ED’s Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination Program.  Teachers from both districts and evaluation experts explained that infusing the arts into the core academic curriculum engages students and taps into their unique learning styles, resulting in higher student achievement.  They told the audience that using the arts to teach core subjects helps develop higher-order thinking skills and results in more active participation and collaboration in class.  Their claims of success are backed by data from the randomized evaluation of both programs, which show academic gains in language arts and mathematics by the students involved in arts compared with their peers in traditional education programs.

President Obama’s plan to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act will support schools as they provide a well-rounded curriculum that includes the arts, sciences history, and civics as well as reading and mathematics.

Click here for more information on the evidence behind the success of the Arts-Integration Grantee program.

Mary Criasia is an intern in the Office of Communications and Outreach at the Department of Education


  1. James,

    Your statement needs to be tempered with some form of realism, lest the precious little snowflakes rule the world.

    Every child is special, and every child can achieve whatever they want. But their pure existence does not dictate this fact. The realistic view should be:

    “In all of the years that have passed, there’s never been another kid like you. Your legs, your arms, your clever fingers, the way you move. You [can] become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven [with enough hard work]. You have got the capacity for anything [as long as you put in the time and effort].”

    The problem comes when the additions I have made are not told to the student. When every child is told that their simple existence is enough effort, we end up with a country full of lay-abouts and waste. Without hard work and persistence, the current climate of GIVE ME BECAUSE I SAID SO, will not change.

    But this is my humble opinion.

  2. Every second we live is a fresh and new moment of the universe, a moment which will never be again. And what do we teach our youngsters? When will we also teach them what they are? We should say to every one of them : do you actually know what you are? You’re a wonder. You are unique.
    In all of the years that have passed, there’s never been another kid like you. Your legs, your arms, your clever fingers, the way you move. You’ll become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven. You have got the capacity for anything.That is each kid is unique artist init.

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