As schools change high school graduation requirements to include important subjects like financial literacy, the need to reduce or cut other requirements is being examined by the Kansas State board of educators. Core classes like math, science, and English are essential elements of a well-rounded education. Now, other classes like art programs are in jeopardy of being removed from requirements to prevent credit hours from being increased.
Kansas schools retain a 21-credit minimum for students to receive their high school diploma. The need for more useful subjects to be taught — in order for students to enter adulthood properly prepared — is shifting curriculum requirements and putting art classes in jeopardy. There are many known benefits to fine arts classes. While some subjects are taught through more traditional means, art class offers students a change of pace. They are able to explore through different methods and experiences.
Art classes also teach life skills. Students in art classes learn to develop a personal work ethic, express themselves to others, and have even been known to score higher on SAT tests. Art classes also teach students how to pace themselves and continuously work toward a final goal.
Despite these benefits, not every student is interested in the subject. Some are more focused on reading and writing, others enjoy the scientific process or problem-solving because those subjects follow stricter rules and are not open to interpretation. Nearly every student who prefers solid tangible lessons has been involved in school art projects where messy abstract work is praised regardless of effort and skill level. This is discouraging for students who wish to find solid answers to questions and know that their work is correct or incorrect.
In Sacramento California, arts requirements were replaced with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) classes. As many teachers argue for the need to keep art programs, more and more students admit that they are not being taught the lessons they need to become successful as adults. In previous years polls for Youth Truth and the National Financial Educators Council have displayed that around half of students do not believe they are being taught relevant subjects in school and that managing finances should be a required course. The question of why students who are not interested in art must be forced to take an art class to finish high school has been asked for years now. In addition, it has also been noted that students who focus on STEM fields make more money as adults than those who go on to be top earners in the liberal arts field.
While theseclasses can offer students an engaging subject which explores their creative abilities, financial literacy is a class that teaches teens how to manage their money and become fiscally responsible. That is a skill that everyone needs to succeed. Removing a specific art requirement from high school programs will make room for financial literacy classes or other STEM programs. This aids students who are not interested in fine arts, while those who do wish to explore their creativity can sign up for art classes as electives instead, or seek after-school art programs. This solution may offer Kansas schools the balance needed to serve varying interests.