California law mandates standards-based instruction from kindergarten through high school in dance, music, theater and visual art.

Yet, according to a recent report by SRI Education, nearly 90% of our public schools are failing to align their educational offerings with state standards.

Arts education is essential for student well-being as well as for academic success. Access to the full range of visual and performing arts is proven to prepare students for well-paying 21st-century jobs in a wide variety of fields and encourages engagement in civic and community activities.

Students with access to arts education are five times less likely to drop out of school, four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement and four times more likely to receive a bachelor’s degree. And in this particular moment, arts classes can also play a critical role in helping students recover from “the dual traumas of systemic racism and a global pandemic,” according to Julie Baker, executive director of California Arts Advocates.

As the Covid-19 pandemic lingers, social and emotional learning has become a top priority for educators. Giving students access to culturally appropriate arts education is one way to support students’ sense of connection to their peers, their schools and their place in their community. Just as important, standards-based, sequential education in music, dance, theater and visual arts allows kids to engage with learning in new ways and promotes collaboration and creative thinking that they carry far beyond classes in performing and visual arts.

For example, Chula Vista Elementary School District in the southernmost part of California recently made an audacious commitment to the arts. After years of under-investing in arts instruction in reaction to high-stakes testing requirements, the district changed course.

Read the full article about arts education by Jeanine Flores at EdSource.