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Voters Agree the Arts are Necessary for Students Competing in a Global Economy

Poll shows why ‘No Child Left Behind Act’ needs to be amended

WASHINGTON - January 24, 2008 -

A new national poll shows the majority of voters surveyed understand the importance of subjects like art and music in developing the imagination—which they believe is critical for children to acquire skills necessary to prosper in the future.  

According to The Imagine Nation , a random phone survey of one thousand likely registered voters, 80 percent believe the arts develop the imagination and the critical, intellectual and personal skills students need to be successful in a global economy.  

The survey, which was conducted in December 2007, also shows:

- 85 percent agree the basics alone are not enough for a 21st century workforce without the skills and ability to be imaginative, creative and innovative
- 78 percent agree standardized testing does not encourage students to perform beyond the average and does not fully develop the imagination of students
- 87 percent believe science, engineering, technology and math—when integrated with the arts—provide students with a set of skills and values necessary to promote innovation.


John Wilson, the executive director of the National Education Association, a cosponsor of the poll, also believes it draws more attention to why the No Child Left Behind Act—which Congress may reauthorize this year—needs to be amended.

“This poll confirms voters—many of them being parents—understand two key problems with current education policy under the No Child Left Behind Act,” said Wilson.  “There’s too much attention paid to standardized testing and not enough to the arts and helping our children develop 21st century skills.”  

Wilson and NEA both participate in the Partnership for 21st Century Skills.  It’s a coalition of education and business groups designed to position creativity, innovation, critical thinking and problem solving skills at the center of K–12 education.

The Imagine Nation also found that 57 percent of voters would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supported funding for building the capacities of the imagination among public school students.  Among swing voters—identified in the poll as the “imagination constituency”—it is 72 percent.

“It’s time to put partisan politics aside in the interest of our children,” said Wilson.  “Our elected officials must commit to putting the necessary resources behind those policies and ideas we know prepare them for the future.”


The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing 3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

Contact: Brian Washington  (202) 822-7823