Art should never be ignored in schools in my opinion. Art may seem less useful to some people than say, maths, science and language (the more quantifiable disciplines) but it is not. There is now, a growing opinion that art is essential for rounded development and is fundamental to problem-solving. Doing art awakens parts of the mind that would otherwise lay dormant.
The book ‘Drawing from the Right Side of the Brain’, by Betty Edwards is an excellent learning-to-draw book and suggests that art uses the right side of the brain and analytical-type activities, the left. The one aspect I know intuitively from being an artist and running a business is, not to use one or other, but both. By doing art, you stimulate the side of the brain not often used well from the age of about eight, and by combining the two side, you literally become smarter, I think... twice the grey matter as it were. It is also a great way of learning problem solving skills, and if you are already pretty good at solving problems, it keeps you good at it. There is no CTRL Z in the artist's pallet.
Sir Ken Robinson sums it up in his talk at the conference 'Do schools kill creativity?' Feb 2006. I urge you to watch this... "Do schools kill creativity" it is hysterically funny and gets the message across brilliantly.