Have you heard whether the consortium responsible for the development of state standards for the assessment of language arts learning and math across the country has started on art standards yet? Art, that last bastion of unquantifiable whatever. High time we determined whether American children are becoming college and career ready, capable of contributing to the national competitive edge in the global economy through their art, don’t you think? And if standards can’t be set—personally, I think it can be done, and I’ve sent a letter requesting to be included on the team—then how can we justify the expenditure of public money on continuing art classes? Or at least the side of art that deals in the expression of feelings, memories, perceptions, prophetic statements, and some of the social commentary stuff. There are so many ways in which art can be used to grow the economy and contribute to national security. Advertising, creating consumable artistic products, and making inspirational works of art aimed at stimulating patriotism and/or fear of global climate events, terrorist threats and excess immigration, to name a few. Don’t you just love the Rosie the Riveter image, for example? That’s what I call art. Some of that abstract stuff, fine if the colors match your interior decoration, but otherwise, you can’t even tell what anything is!
Some art teachers complain that having written standards they have to know and assess by is a waste of time, even a hindrance to good teaching, the art of teaching, no less. Okay, maybe great teachers don’t need official standards–they’re gifted and talented, after all, but what about regular teachers? Any adequate teacher with a list of standards, the really great curriculum that’s always turning up to match the standards, and the scoring rubrics, can teach art–it becomes idiot proof! And no longer do students get sorted into two groups, talented and hopeless–they can look at the list, follow the curriculum, and every student can excel, if they put the work in to get 3s and 4s. As long as the teacher paces everything properly, that is, and doesn’t allow some kids to work ahead before the slower ones catch up. In fact, it’s better that students are expected to produce the same projects so that apples can be compared to apples, and no one is shooting on ahead so no one knows what the heck they’re doing! And besides, the effect of all those almost identical art project on the wall, lined up on the bulletin boards on different colored mattes is so soothing.