As part of its argument for the need for a bond issue, USD 259, the Wichita school district, makes the case that students who are involved in arts and athletics do better in school.
Recently, perhaps as the result of a request I made, the district’s website added evidence of this. As the USD 259 website states: “Numerous studies have shown that student involvement in arts and athletics activities is directly linked to higher academic performance, stronger school connections, higher graduation rates and fewer discipline problems.”
And, as promised, there are many studies that say just that. But unless I overlooked it, there’s no evidence of causation. There is only correlation — participating in arts and athletics and being a good student are characteristics often found in the same person. Correlation alone, however, does not mean causation, and it is a mistake to assume that one causes the other. It may just as well be the case that high student achievement causes high participation in arts and athletics. None of the studies — unless I overlooked it — makes the case for causation.
By the way, it took over one week for USD 259 to supply this evidence. Citizens are entitled to wonder if USD 259 had this evidence when it decided to make this argument, or did they find it only after someone asked.