Congratulations to the Michigan Department of Education and the State Board of Education for initiating "Education Yes!" the new accountability framework that focuses on teaching for excellence, not just on teaching to the MEAP test.
Arts education advocates throughout the state also applaud the inclusion of the arts as a core curriculum subject. This follows the dramatic revision of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Leave No Child Behind, signed by President Bush last month.
Recent academically accepted research has validated what educators have long suspected: arts education contributes significantly to a student's development. This is not to suggest that arts education is a panacea; arts education is only successful when part of a strong curriculum that provides excellence in reading and language, mathematics and problem solving and social studies. Research has also shown a correlation between arts education and improvements in other academic areas, such as higher SAT scores for high school students who have had arts experiences and improved reading and math scores for students in high-poverty schools that have implemented arts programs.
While arts education is important in its ability to stimulate creative thinking skills and exploring the human experience to enrich our lives, business leaders are increasingly finding that employees with arts education experiences are the company problem solvers. Because most often school venues are the only institutions able to provide access to the arts for the vast majority of students, Education Yes! that includes arts as core accountability standards for Michigan schools is more significant than ever.