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Russo goes after Obama for his support of Art Education.

April 28, 2008

“Art is cool,” says Russo, condescendingly.

First of all, I’m an art teacher.

Secondly, I am not one of those who argue that the value of Arts Education is that it will boost test scores in math or reading. I have read some studies that suggest a correlation, but I’ve been around long enough to know that such correlations are most likely due to the fact that schools that can afford arts programs tend to have higher test scores.

So, was Barack Obama wrong for supporting arts education and suggesting that it would improve education in the schools that provide it, including their math and reading scores?

(Note to eduwonkette: I’m not mad.)

Alexander Russo says yes.

I say no.

Because, although I don’t agree that there is much evidence to support the-arts-improve-tests-scores theory, the essence of what Obama was saying was his critique of NCLB. And he’s dead right on this point: Schools need to address the needs of the whole child and NCLB has narrowed the focus, excluding the arts, physical education and even history.

Rather than Russo’s “sure, art is cool” condescension, Obama provides a broader perspective of what knowledge is worth experiencing, knowing and teaching.

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