Simply put, art changed my life — literally. More specifically, an arts education at a public school changed my life. That qualification is crucial because for today’s public school students, getting an arts education isn’t as easy as it once was.
In study after study after study, we see that giving students, especially those in kindergarten through high school, an education in the arts has major benefits that will impact the rest of their lives.
We know it helps with cognitive thinking skills. We know it can help increase compassion. We also know how much an arts education can positively impact kids like me — Black and brown children from low-income areas.
Americans for the Arts, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the arts as part of our communities, has research showing that students from disadvantaged backgrounds who get involved in arts education are:
- 10 percentage points more likely to find gainful employment;
- 17 percentage points more likely to earn an associate degree; and
- 20 percentage points more likely to earn a bachelor’s degree.
I can attest to this from my own story, but seeing these numbers only confirms what I know in my heart — an arts education can change your life.
This is why it’s so painful to see arts education continually taking a back seat—if not altogether pushed out of our public school curriculums. Some research shows that the percentage of students who received an arts education fell from 50% to under 30% in the years between 1982 and 2008. White students, however, saw their rates continue to hover at or around 60%.