I believe in the long run that 'arts education' is viewed by the average taxpayer as frivolous, and as something they can 'purchase' on their own, through lessons at their local music store, or Y or camp, or through a relative, etc. I believe that the notion that the 'arts' complement the academics is foreign to them, and that the public feels our justifications are mere rantings and ravings to save our jobs through diversion of language.. I believe most of the public thinks that Grandma Moses is the key to painting, in that you can just 'paint' and don't need formal training or 'awareness', and that art history can be gleaned through regular history courses...and who wants their child exposed to strange artists anyway, and what was with Van Gogh anyway, etc. As long as art is associated with 'magic' or with 'genius', I think the public does not feel it is accessible enough that it should or could be 'taught', but that it should just be 'done' on one's own time, in the privacy of one's own studio.
We all know differently....
But essentially when we talk about how to save art education we are preaching to the choir.
Our questions should center around: how do we change public perceptions about what we do?, what exactly do students learn?, and ultimately what will be missing in their lives if they DON'T have art?