Several studies indicate students' academic lives improve when they have access to the arts, whether part of an academic program or an extracurricular. One study, reported by the Missouri Department of Education and the Missouri Alliance for Arts Education, determined that public schools in Missouri with arts programs saw better grades and an increase in graduation and attendance rates. Another study, like this one, led by the Arts Education Partnership, suggests that music, drama, and dance participation can sharpen reading, writing, visual, communication, analyzing, and problem-solving skills. As an individual who grew up with plenty of access to the arts, I am in agreement with these findings. For example, reading music was another way for me to practice and boost my arithmetic skills. I might have dreaded my math classes in my early school years, whereas because of my firm grasp of music theory, math magically became both fun and useful for me.
The benefits mentioned above that we receive from the arts are justifiable reasons to keep them as part of the main teaching curriculum in public schools. However, they shouldn’t be the only required reasons for us to hold on to the arts, which bestow other skill sets that are just as valuable, such as the skills associated with empathy, creativity, imagination, sociability, emotional intelligence, and collaboration. Also, they celebrate and encourage uniqueness, originality, and mistakes, ultimately teaching students about self-confidence. When the arts are unavailable in public schools, students' abilities to learn integral skills and attributes are inhibited because those valuable skills are not necessarily incorporated in the other core school subjects.
The arts can stand on their own. They need not rely on Math, Science, English, or History for validation. Simply stated, a curriculum without the arts is unquestionably incomplete, like a breakfast with fiber but no protein. How’s that for a grade?