Chris Russo from Portland discusses the state of arts education in public schools


Chris Russo Portland

Chris Russo from Portland, OR is a writer, world traveler and educator. Having an appreciation for the arts and arts education, Christopher Russo explains below some of the worrying trends in funding art programs across the United States.

Chris Russo notes that the Arts Commission recently expressed concern about the state of emergency for arts education in public schools. The commission, which is funded by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, believes that access to arts education is steadily declining and that immediate attention is needed to stop this trend.

How did they come to this conclusion? Thanks to years of research, all compiled into a report that lists many details about this crisis.

So what was in the report? How inaccessible is arts education in America? And what to do to alleviate this crisis?

About the AAAS Arts Commission

Mr. Russo reports that the Academy of Arts and Sciences has set up the Arts Commission in 2018 research arts education in the United States through a multi-year review. The Academy has also set out to assess the extent to which increased support is needed for arts education.

The research effort focused on student access, or lack of access, to arts education in public institutions. Three key members of the Academy of Arts and Sciences chair the Arts Commission. Members include Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts President Deborah Rutter, actor and writer John Lithgow, and United States Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey.

These members led a team of 38 academics, artists and activists who contributed their knowledge and time to undertake the analysis and create the resulting report.

Conclusions of the Commission report

The final report noted an urgent need to include the arts in basic education in all institutions. The study found gaps in arts education based on social origin. Overall, white children were twice as likely to have access to art as Hispanic or black children. Youth whose parents have a college education are up to six times more likely to have access to the arts than those whose parents have not gone to college.

The study also found that in some areas, low-income schools lag far behind when it comes to arts education. For example, in some schools in New York City, the purchase of art equipment and materials fell 84% between 2006 and 2013. Additionally, the study found that more than 42% of schools in the areas low-income earners did not have state-certified art teachers.

The report also revealed that the skills and values ​​advanced through arts education are invaluable in developing well-rounded individuals. The benefits include emotional and social development, improved engagement with other school activities, and improved other crucial social and civic engagements. Committee members cite other studies which prove that arts education increases tolerance and empathy, understanding of other cultures and histories, and that music studies even increase brain gray matter in certain areas of the brain. .

He also concluded that teachers need to be supported and developed, so that they can reach more students, especially those in low-income areas.

In light of these findings, Portland’s Chris Russo says the presidents have suggested that policy changes need to happen and that more arts funding be made available.

Taking public opinion into account

The report of the Arts Commission raises enormous public concern. Almost 90% of Americans believe that art school is an essential aspect of global education, especially in communities that cannot self-fund art school, many of whom expect change after hearing these numbers.

According to Christopher Russo, the members of the president have recognized that American citizens value the art school as a way to move towards new policies that will provide more funding for artistic initiatives. The committee pointed out that education policy makers have not developed cohesive systems to provide students with access to the art necessary for an ideal comprehensive education.

The committee also suggested working towards a goal as a solution: every child should have access to the teaching of painting, writing, music, acting and all art forms, regardless of the implications of its socio-economic situation.

Christophe Russo Portland


Chris Russo of Portland says that to develop a renewal of the arts position in basic education, the Commission on the Arts has made several policy recommendations that leaders should adopt. These recommendations focus on six key aspects that would be applicable to local, state and national educational institutions.

They request the following changes:

  • This art should become an essential aspect of education for all children. This should be done by offering a diverse set of art classes. The arts should also be included among the basic distribution requirements.
  • The role of art must continue to be evaluated through research, data and accountability. This should be done at the school district, federal and state levels. Accountability systems should be reformed to integrate arts education into the range of desired outcomes cultivated by schools.
  • Key actors must ensure that funding for arts education is sufficient and equitably removed. This can be done by providing significant financial support for public education and acceptable funding functions at local and state levels.
  • Priorities for policies and funding to improve accessibility to the arts should be defined. To this end, the recruitment, development and support of arts educators should be developed. This should respond in particular to under-represented groups.
  • Collaboration within artistic and educational communities should be encouraged and nurtured through sufficiently funded partnerships between schools and artistic communities at large.
  • Federal leadership in the arts should be restored through increased funding and the re-establishment of the Presidential Committee on the Arts and Humanities. A national celebration of arts education should also be adopted.


The AAAS Arts Committee report calls on public schools to do more to provide access to the arts. However, the report determined that this responsibility does not rest solely with educators in school districts. All employees of state community development and education departments and politicians should work together to achieve a thriving arts education system.

The report also suggests that it is up to other stakeholders such as community centers and museums to create opportunities in their facilities for students to engage in art.

It’s not even a uniquely American problem either. During a recent stay, Chris Russo discovered that Paraguay is going through a parallel situation.

Russo is hopeful that the low engagement figures found in this report encourage these key players to make arts education a priority in America, and that we will begin to see an increase in student participation over the next five years.


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