I'm seeing a lot of posts on my Facebook timeline about the arts becoming a 'core subject' (I hang out with a lot of art teachers I guess) thanks to the new Student Success Act... but I'm not so sure that we should be ready to celebrate yet.
I've read a bit of the act itself and it looks to me what has changed isn't that the arts have become a 'core' but that the language around 'core subjects' has changed. Instead of 'core subjects' the text now reads 'a well rounded education' which is defined as:
“...courses, activities, and programming in subjects such as English, reading or language arts, writing, science, technology, engineering, mathematics, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history, geography, computer science, music, career and technical education, health, physical education, and any other subject, as determined by the State or local educational agency, with the purpose of providing all students access to an enriched curriculum and educational experience.”
So while it is significant to see that the arts are recognized as equally important as other subjects under the definition of 'well rounded education', it is not mandated as a 'core subject' which, by definition, would be one that *must* be taught. In fact, the bill states that a well-rounded education can be defined by *any* course that the state or local agency mandates as 'providing all students access to an enriched curriculum and educational experience'. In other words, state governments are free to include art, or not include art.
On the other hand, there does seem to be many provisions to support arts education with additional funding, STEAM initiatives, and supplementary art programs for under served communities.
This does look like progress for arts education in the US - but perhaps this mammoth ship is not turning as quickly as some other articles would suggest.