Savvy educators have always known that the arts, far from a frill, contribute mightily to a young person's intellectual development. Self-expression, creativity, exactness and accuracy - all get a boost from visual arts, music, or drama.
Yet those programs too often get blue-penciled as budgets tighten and "hard" academics are emphasized. A recent US Department of Education study warns about this trend.
Education Secretary Richard Riley notes: "In nearly every field in which we need to foster new ideas in order to succeed - from computers to communications - people with an education in the arts are playing critical conceptual roles."
Schools that are too quick to trim arts programs may be keeping themselves, their students - even the country - from giving shape, form, and action to valuable talents.