I agree with the second answer's point that people who value arts education will need to make themselves heard and may indeed have to vote with their pocketbooks. It's not just testing that's squeezing these programs -- it's economic problems.
To me, though, this question poses a profoundly perplexing problem (sorry). What place do extracurriculars have in education anyway?
Multiple intelligences doesn't imply to me that you need arts in school. Instead, it implies that teachers in the non-arts subjects need to try to make lesson plans that cater to all kinds of intelligences.
A better argument for arts in school is that they may motivate students to stay in school solely to be able to participate in an arts program. This argument is, of course, made about sports as well.
But are schools supposed to offer a class to interest each student and "bribe" each student to come for all the other stuff? If so, there need to be way more classes. There would need to be cooking classes offered that students could take every year. Why not video games classes? Knitting? Hunting and fishing? Film?
My point isn't to belittle extracurriculars (I love sports, played them in HS, have coached them) but I'm not sure they deserve the funding when there is so much competition for each dollar. Schools can't provide something to scratch each student's non-academic itch.
Hard questions indeed, and it's too bad that they have to be asked.
The answer to this predicament will require courage on the part of all stakeholders. Communities, teachers, administrators, parents, and students have to speak out against an educational setting where artistic expression is sacrificed to high stakes standardized testing. In the final analysis, all of these parties must converge in a driving force that acknowledges both the need for testing based accountability alongside the notion of artistic and "non- tested" expression. This can take on several forms. One such way would be for local high school musicians to work with elementary and middle school students in cultivating a love of music. Another and more activist stance would be for administrators to outreach to parents and community forces to generate the need for greater support in these areas. This support could be financial, but simply to speak out against the removal of such programs. In settings where cuts for artistic programs might be present, community activism and courage might be the strongest force to stop the rising, and disturbing, trend of high stakes standardized assessment casualties.
It is a tragic fact that with the financial situation and the "accountability" of schools determining which courses will be cut from the curriculum, many of the fine art courses have been cut from schools. Somehow, administrations have ignored the importance of fostering all the intelligences.
The cognitive research in 1983 of Howard Gardner of Harvard should have convinced educators of the importance of fostering the visual, sound, and musical intelligences, but, sadly, these areas are being neglected despite studies that have revealed how students can learn better when, for instance, they illustrate an idea or put it to music or connect the mathematical concept with art. One such study demonstrated that learners improved their math scores after they participated in drama classes. Tapping into the right side of students brains clearly helps the left side.
Added to this factual data, there is no question that many students come to school mainly because of an athletic program or a creative arts program, for in these arenas they can excel, express themselves, and, consequently, feel personal satisfaction. In addition, they get to interact with friends--socialization is extremely important to teens, especially.
It is because of the United States's having become such a materialistic, consumer nation that the liberal arts are of a diminished appreciation. Now, people go to colleges and universities for "edu-training" so that they can procure a high-paying job. Little appreciation is given to the musician who plays in a symphony, the artist, the theatre actor. Yet, the creative mind is, and always will be, the one who comes up with great ideas. Who knows how much having had the creative arts may have assisted the chemist with his/her new discovery? Or the advertising executive with the new campaign? Nevertheless, creative people are only valued when they generate new ideas that will save or make money in this country--or entertain the masses.
Above all else, it is the creative arts that sustain the soul. These are the areas that satisfy people's basic needs and desires--the ones that stimulate the heart and give meaning to the personal lives of all people. Therefore, if for no other reason, the creative arts should be valued highly.