Herbert Kohl wrote an excellent Open letter to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. It is well worth a read, as well as a digg. Here is an excerpt:
Cutting programs in the arts reinforces this impoverishment of learning. The free play of the imagination, which is so crucial for problem-solving and even for entrepreneurship, is discouraged in a basics curriculum lacking in substantial artistic and human content.
Add to this the elimination of physical education in order to clear more time to torture students with mechanical drilling and shallow questioning and it is no wonder that many American students are lethargic.
It is possible to maintain high standards for all children, to help students learn how to speak thoughtfully, think through problems and create imaginative representations of the world — as it is and as it could be — without forcing them through a regime of high-stakes testing.