Since the 20th century, art programs in school have been in jeopardy in every election that has passed because the arts are usually undervalued. Art lovers worry that budget cuts will ruin the art programs placed in schools. In March 2017, President Trump released “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again”, which explains his plan for an immense budget cut that including agencies that fund the arts (“America First”). This would include completely cutting out the National Endowment for the Arts, which is an independent federal organization that gives funding to multiple schools and other organizations to give people the opportunity to partake in the arts (“About the NEA”). The NEA distributes forty percent of its funds to the Regional Arts Organizations, who in-turn, gives those funds to nonprofit art agencies (Knight 342).
The Trump administration believes that the arts are not as necessary in schools as the STEM program and could use the money for defense systems. The NEA believes the art programs in schools are essential to a student’s success because it fosters creativity. Though the Trump administration wants academic success through the STEM program and the NEA wants this through the arts program, these two organizations share common ground in that they both want students to be successful in school. One compromise that equally shares both concerns is to have the arts program after school and during the summer. The NEA will still be active and will be able to promote the arts to the students, who will be able to focus on core subjects during the school year, which leads to an increase in tests scores and graduation rates. The Trump administration believes that the STEM program is more important than the arts. For this reason, they plan on removing the arts program by removing the funding, which would completely disband the National Endowment for the Arts.
Based on the 2018 budget proposal, not only would the arts program be disbanded, but also the humanities and public media (Naylor). During the recent election, President Trump has been primarily focused on building defenses on America’s borders. The money that would normally go to the National Endowment for the Arts, The National Endowment for the Humanities, and The Corporation for Public Broadcasting will now go towards defense systems (Naylor). In fact, the only departments that would gain an increase in funds are the Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense, and The Department of Homeland Security (Krieg). The White House Budget Director, Mick Mulvaney, describes the budget plan as a “‘hard-power budget,’ with spending increases for defense and homeland security at the expense of many other programs in the discretionary part of the budget.” (Naylor).
With these budget cuts, the defense spending will increase by ten percent. Approximately, fifty-four billion dollars will be cut from big and small programs across the United States (Taylor). With more focus on the STEM programs, the Trump administration believes that students will be more successful in school without the distraction of the arts and will be more likely to be involved in technology and engineering-based careers, which is more important than careers that are focused on designing, painting, and acting. Students who go to STEM focused schools have up to thirteen percent higher on standardized test scores than students who do not go to a STEM focused school (Scott, 33) Although the Trump Administration believes that the arts are just a luxury in schools, the National Endowment for the Arts has an opposing view on the subject. The National Endowment for the Arts claims that the arts a fundamental part of a student’s success. Participating in these kinds of programs can lead to an increase in attendance and in academic schoolwork.
Students tend to stay in school because “courses in the arts involve active learning and are creative and engaging by their very nature.” (Thomas, 328). Many benefits come in when considering a student’s life in the arts and life in the classroom.
Studies have found that participating in the arts has strengthen problem solving skills, critical thinking skills, bring cultural awareness, and improve test scores (Lynch, PBS). One research project, performed by the Dana Foundation, found that studying the arts brings many beneficial creative approaches that could be applied to other subjects. For example, researchers found links between music training and the ability to manipulate information in one’s memory (Gazzaniga, Dana Foundation). Another benefit is that the arts give students a reason to stay in school. Personal problems or losing interest in schoolwork have made many students decide to stop going to school or drop out altogether.
Schools that have art programs have higher attendance rates then schools that do not have art programs. Not only the arts help in school, but it also helps students outside of schools too. Students tend to have better social skills and a greater capacity for leadership. The NEA defends that with all these benefits, students have a better chance in succeeding in and out of school.
Despite the difference in NEA’S and the Trump Administration point of view on the topic of funding the arts in schools, these two organization do share something in common. The NEA and the Trump Administration both want students to succeed in school. A compromise that will lead to the continuing of the NEA and funds for the Trump Administration is to have fine arts classes during the summer and have art clubs after school. Having the art programs during the summer and after class will allow students have the arts available to them and still focus on STEM and core classes. This will allow the NEA to stay in business and continue promoting the arts to schools and children. The Trump Administration will not get all the funds that they initially wanted, but he will receive some funds from limiting the art programs. While students are working on the arts during the summer and after school, students will focus more on STEM programs during the school year, which will increase success in test scores for the schools and increase success in students’ academic life.
Currently many schools have after school and summer art programs and many have proven to be successful. For example, one study experimented on the connection between art programs and critical thinking in elementary students. This program was performed after school and the results showed that all the regular art program curriculum shown in public schools enhanced the students critical thinking (Lampart 64).
This shows that critical thinking can been done through the arts and it can reflect in other subjects, such as reading and math. In conclusion, The Trump Administration wants to disband the art programs, which would terminate the National Endowment of the Arts. Instead, they want students to focus on STEM and core classes and use the funds for defense systems. The NEA wants to stay in business and continue to spread art across schools and other communities throughout the United States. A compromise that would suit both needs is to have the art program during summer and in forms of after school clubs. This would help the NEA to stay in business and the Trump administration would be able to gather funds and have students focus on core classes and the STEM program.