Is It Worth It: Liberal Arts Programs Funded More

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Schools are starting to underfund the liberal arts programs, so the students who enjoy these classes will not get the most out of them. Liberal arts may not be the most enjoyable, but it is required in most states to graduate. Many of us have been required to take a liberal art class but do not want to take it. However, others want to take the classes because they generally enjoy it. Recent budget cuts in schools have caused the school to cut down on the spending in the liberal arts programs. 

With a liberal arts education you gain multiple qualities and skills. From communication skills to computer skills, a liberal arts education helps with more specific jobs that require a general education. While there are certainly advantages to be gained by having easy access to core classes and the seemingly infinite knowledge it provides, further analysis of this connectivity will display a clear connection between liberal arts and a better understanding of yourself. No one can deny that they haven’t learned more about themselves while taking a liberal arts class. Some people might learn that they would rather edit videos while taking a photography class or a drawing and painting class. A degree in the liberal arts prepares students not only to make a living, but also to make a life.

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In March of 2017, President Trump, in his first federal budget plan, proposed eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. It was also the first time a president has ever called for ending the endowments, which were created in 1965, when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed legislation declaring that any “advanced civilization” must fully value the arts, humanities, and cultural activities (Deb). Scheduled to open in fall 2020, the new complex dedicated to humanities and social sciences will house the school’s humanities, social studies and non-performing arts programs, while incorporating new technology into the humanities and social studies disciplines (Carter). Immediately after World War II, private colleges and universities educated about half of all U.S. students, and probably 40 percent of these students were in liberal arts colleges. (McPherson and Schapiro, p. 48)

Many colleges are also against the 2018 budget cuts proposal. “For education in particular, the President’s 2018 budget proposal would cut spending and eliminate funds for many federal education programs including, the Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants program, the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program, and the Pell Grants program.”

However, according to the U.S. Department of Education, cutting liberal arts would be beneficial to the country: The Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant program, or FSEOG provides between $100-$4,000 a year for students with financial need. FSEOG provides financial aid to around 1.6 million undergraduates each year. Eliminating the FSEOG program would save the government an estimated $732 million. The 2018 budget proposal also seeks to cut spending to the nation’s largest federally funded income-based financial aid program, the Pell Grant program. (Vista College) As this would save the government a lot of money, it would also be costing many students wanted education.

There are many debates about cutting liberal arts, but the real question is: Is it really worth the money over somebody’s education? When certain classes aren’t being selected by students, we can choose to cut the budgets for those instead of just the liberal arts. Just because the class can “help you out in the real world”, it is kept by the school instead of cutting the budgets for it. This topic has not come to a final decision yet because many people believe that having a liberal arts education can be very beneficial in the real world whereas others believe that it is a waste of time and money. The skills now being favored as more valuable in the workforce come primarily from STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education, and Trump's team has proposed a budget plan that would drop federal spending by as much as $10.5 trillion over the next decade and funding for the Arts and Humanities would be the first to go (Adams). However, if Trump manages to repeal the funding for liberal arts, it would be barely putting a dent in the nation's $4 trillion budget. In other words, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) makes up less than a quarter of one percent of the budget.

Because of people not getting a good enough all-around education, the liberal arts should not be cut. “Some of President Donald Trump’s planned budget cuts appear to be targeted more at undercutting Democratic priorities than at shrinking the national debt.” A liberal arts education is more important to this society than a small quarter of one percent of the money in the federal government (Tepper). Without a good enough education, think of how our society will be in even 10 years when we don’t have face to face communication anymore. Twin threats - budget cuts necessitated by tax revenues and the push to focus on math and reading skills as measured on standardized tests - have left music and art classes in a vulnerable state.

Two papers published in the Arts Education Policy Review, one notes students whose education in STEM learning will not be prepared for 'the jobs of tomorrow,' while the other explores the value of the arts in helping kids understand their emotions (Jacobs). For children to become successful adults, they need to know how to do more things than just read, write, and do math. The arts are a great teaching tool in how they “frequently involve group tasks”. Writing in Educational Leadership, Scherer (1997, p. 5) states 'emotional intelligence, more than IQ, ... is the most reliable predictor of success in life and in school,' (Mayer and Cobb, p. 164). As students progress in school, they tend to start basing what they would like to do for a living on the money. We start to believe that arts will not help us out in the “real world”, so we start to take those classes less and less. However, the arts help your emotional intelligence which helps you succeed in school and help you get a better general education. This can also be a good utility to get into the college that we want and aid us to go out into the “real world” with the job we want. As you can see, taking these liberal arts classes does not generally mean we want to go into the arts field, but that it helps out with other jobs by stabilizing our emotional intelligence to guide us into being responsible adults.

However, private liberal arts colleges are facing economic declination. Faced with change in student interests, public and private universities shifted their commitments rapidly, toward undergraduate professional programs (McPherson and Schapiro, p. 49). Since students are not interested in taking these courses, the government has started to underfund school’s liberal arts programs to give more money to the courses that are needed. But which courses are specifically needed? Most high school students are required to take four years of english and three years of math and science. Why not liberal arts? It is a proven fact that taking these liberal art courses helps your emotional intelligence and raises your I.Q. so why exactly is the government cutting the spending for the liberal arts? If the government manages to repeal the funding for liberal arts, it would be barely putting a dent in the nation's $4 trillion budget.

Therefore, doing so, would not be any sort of beneficial for the other “required” courses. This would help the students wanting to take the liberal arts courses because the schools would not have to cut down on the spending for the classes the students desire. Students gain multiple qualities and skills such as respect, analysis, etc. as well as gaining more knowledge upon themselves from these optional courses. Why is this so important? People around the world go on with their everyday lives not realizing the impact one class can cause. Giving one class a try in high school or college can change a person’s life forever, unless the class is not funded enough money. Cutting the cost of a liberal arts education can change a person’s life, and not for the better.

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