Art and music haven't vanished

The National Report Card on the Arts finds little change in eighth graders’ access to music or visual arts instruction from 1997 to 2008 or in their musical and artistic knowledge. From USA Today:

Gather up a group of eighth-graders, pop in a CD of George Gershwin’s seminal Rhapsody in Blue and turn up the volume.

Then ask: In those first few seconds, what keening, soaring, note-bending instrument do you hear?

When the federal government put this question to thousands of eighth-graders in 1997, only about half knew it was a clarinet. When they tried again last year, the results were the same.

Middle-school administrators polled as part of the tests say students are just as likely to have received regular instruction in music and arts in 2008 as in 1997. That suggests that No Child Left Behind, the federal effort begun in 2002 to increase the basic math and reading skills of children, may not have adversely affected middle schoolers’ instruction time in the arts, as many critics worried.

More students are getting regular music instruction, but fewer say they’ve gone on a field trip to an art museum or art show. On the other hand, 80 percent say they paint or draw regularly in school.