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Could it be that American youngsters are following the path of those adults who almost proudly say, ''I don't know much about art, but I know what I like''? According to the latest findings of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, most students tested at the end of the 1970s were less knowledgeable about art and music than their peers earlier in the decade. But they still liked both subjects.

''If we are serious about art and music being goals of our educational system , then we must create more opportunities for students to learn about them,'' said the assessment's director.Anyone should recognize this as a line to be applauded.

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