Schools Are Divesting From Arts Education as Covid-Era Federal Funds Evaporate

"The arts help us learn to be more than consumers," Lakeisha Steele tells Truthout.

"They teach problem-solving skills, train children to work together and develop empathy for others."

Steele is the vice president of policy at the 30-year-old Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, and she credits the American Rescue Plan that passed in 2021 with putting needed cash into public education, which enabled the temporary expansion of arts programming.

As of 2020, just 19 states included the arts as a key education area.

Prior to the rescue plan, "we were at a fairly productive point of the pendulum swing, with the end of No Child Left Behind in 2015 and a more holistic understanding of young people's lives," says Erica Rosenfeld Halverson, a professor of curriculum and instruction at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

But after the rescue plan passed, "the focus has been on a return to basicsreading, writing, arithmetic, and sanitized accounts of American historya focus that ignores the role that arts education can play in helping kids plug into academics and social and emotional well-being," Steele says.

According to Halverson, funding for all types of public school arts education typically fluctuates from year to year, with massive cuts implemented during

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