A school district near my home recently announced they are laying off around a dozen PE teachers and around a dozen instrumental music teachers for next school year. It is a cost saving measure in a district that is not really struggling financially. It wasn't directly stated that music and physical education aren't included in the state testing, but it really didn't even have to be. The state test is king around here and administration lives and dies by the scores. Anything that brings up the scores is good, anything not directly related to the scores is an unnecessary waste of time and money.
It is distressing to watch the fine, physical, and practical arts make way for only the solid academic subjects. It is distressing to see less supervision and guidance in physical development. Solid academics are certainly valuable, but so is self-expression. I am an academic minded person. I am thankful I learned to read well and can handle myself in the demands of my life in the maths and sciences. I am interested in history and the social sciences. But, I have to say, that writing the blog, quilting, cooking, photography and the other artistic pursuits of mine have added much my joy and peace in my life than the academics ever could. I might have benefited from more physical education in my school years rather than less.
As a society we greatly admire the physically talented, and those people who dare to freely express themselves in music and art. We watch cooking shows and listen to music and spend exorbitant amounts of money watching performers of all types. But, more and more we are taking our young people away from free self -expression and the opportunity to experience the discipline and excitement of directed performance and team work even for the less talented.
I would never argue that academics are not important. But, I would argue that they aren't the only thing. Young people need to play instruments, sing, learn various games and activities to develop their bodies and to work as a team. I believe our humanity is fully awakened when we have many opportunities to express who we are. Arts and humanities are important.