The real purpose of arts education is to create complete human beings capable of leading successful and productive lives in a free society.
This is not happening now in American schools. Even if you forget the larger catastrophe that only 70 percent of American kids now graduate from high school, what are we to make of a public education system whose highest goal seems to be producing minimally competent entry-level workers?
The situation is a cultural and educational disaster, but it also has huge and alarming economic consequences. If the United States is to compete effectively with the rest of the world in the new global marketplace, it is not going to succeed through cheap labor or cheap raw materials, nor even the free flow of capital or a streamlined industrial base. To compete successfully, this country needs continued creativity, ingenuity, and innovation.
This is an excerpt from a commencement speech given by Dana Gioia, the chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts this past June that appears in a condensed version in the January/February 2008 American Record Guide.
I found it interesting and enlightening to look at the various presidential candidates' positions on the arts.