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30 Child. Legal Rts. J. 1 (2010)
No Child Left Behind, No Artist Moving Forward: Shrinking Art Education Programs with Harmful Implications for Childhood Development

handle is hein.journals/clrj30 and id is 117 raw text is: I

No Child Left Behind, No Artist Moving
Forward: Shrinking Art Education Programs
with Harmful Implications for Childhood
By Jonathan W. Motto*
Music education opens doors that help children pass from school into the world around
them-a world of work, culture, intellectual activity, and human involvement. The future of our
nation depends on providing our children with a complete education that includes music.
- Gerald Ford'

I. Introduction
The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB or Act) was
signed by President George W. Bush on January 8,
2002. This revolutionary Act reauthorized previous
federal education legislation with the goal of ensuring
that every child in America could perform at his or
her grade level by 2014.3 To reach this high
expectation, NCLB provides for increased school
accountability  through  annual   reports  and
standardized tests.4 Schools must comply with these
increased obligations and federal oversight to ensure
the continuation of Title I education funds.5 President
Bush explained, The era of low expectations and
low standards is ending; a time of great hopes and
proven results is arriving.6 Now eight years since
the enactment of NCLB, the low expectations and
low standards7 described by President Bush are still
present and have settled on music, art, dance, and
theater (hereinafter collectively referred to as art
education) programs. Despite increasing evidence
that  these  art  programs   benefit  childhood
development, art education has taken a back seat in
federal legislation, much to the detriment of children
across the country.9
NCLB lists art as a core subject that may be
included in assessing a school's progress under the
Act.'0 Despite its inclusion in the federal legislation,
NCLB does not require testing or any form of
evaluation for a school's art education program. By
failing to hold schools accountable for art education,
the Act forces schools to divert resources from the
arts to the core subjects that are included in the
annual assessments.12 This results in decreasing art
programs throughout the country and even in the
elimination of music, art, dance, and theater from
school curriculums.13

With the increasing number of research studies
describing the positive impact of art education on
childhood development,14 the federal government and
the new Obama administration must take a critical
look at NCLB and its impact on art education
throughout the country. Legislation that purports to
provide every child with a high-quality education15
cannot accomplish this goal by discouraging schools
from providing subjects in their curriculum that are
directly linked to childhood development, namely,
the arts.16
This article begins by examining historical federal
legislation and by summarizing the provisions of
NCLB as enacted by President George W. Bush in
2002.17 Next, NCLB is analyzed with respect to its
impact on art education in many districts throughout
the country. By examining general statistics and case
studies from a variety of states, the data demonstrates
that NCLB has had a negative impact on art education
in both low-income, inner city schoolsl9 and wealthier,
suburban art programs.20 This article continues by
looking at scientific data and research studies that
demonstrate the positive correlation between art
education  and  childhood  development.21 From
increased cognitive development22 to success on
standardized tests23 and increased math scores,24 art
education has been shown to provide many benefits
throughout childhood. Given the fact that NCLB's
stated purpose is to ensure [that] all children have a
fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high
quality education,26 it is ironic that the Act indirectly
discourages art programs, which are considered an
integral part of a high quality education by many
researchers.27 This article examines Congress's
proposed amendments to NCLB since its enactment in
2002, as well as alternative legislation proposals
prepared by education interest groups.28 Finally, this
article concludes by discussing the positive and

Vol. 30 + No. 2 + Summer 2010

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