The Quiet Revolution

Changing the Face of Arts Education

Published in: GIA Newsletter, Vol 9, No 1 (Spring 1998)

Brent Wilson

1997, 24 pages (executive summary), The Getty Education Institute for the Arts, 1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 600, Los Angeles, California 90049-1683

The Quiet Revolution is a new report evaluating the first seven years of the regional institutes of the Getty Education Institute for the Arts. The report's executive summary is available free-of-charge: the full report costs $25. The GIA Newsletter editors received a copy of the summary, but we have not read the full report. Our comments here are based on the summary.

In 1983, the Getty Education Institute, a program of the J. Paul Getty Trust, began its work in arts education in elementary and secondary schools. The Getty established six regional research and development centers, known as "regional institutes," where new programs could be developed and tested. It was hoped that the institutes would "create educational change communities," for example, consortia of schools, universities, art museums, and other arts and education organizations. The consortia then would undertake planning for arts education and school reform; negotiate agreements with partner school districts; sponsor professional development programs for educators and school administrators; provide technical assistance to participating schools; conduct evaluations; assess student learning; and foster lasting networks of people committed to arts education. The original institutes were located at Florida State University, Minnesota Alliance for Arts Education, Nebraska Department of Education, Ohio State University, the University of Tennessee, and the University of North Texas. In 1995 the Minnesota Institute ended, and in 1994 a regional institute was created in California.

This interesting report presents twelve findings that reveal the successes and challenges of the program's first seven years of operation. Grantmakers interested in school reform efforts, particularly ones that correlate improved arts education with stronger schools, will find this report worthwhile reading.

The report defines two major challenges, both of which could be tackled with concerted effort by private sector grantmakers. One is "the lack of meaningful assessment of student learning. Because many schools do not yet require performance measurements and because the collection of such assessment data is extremely time-consuming and exacting, there are few incentives to correct this deficiency. But if art is to take its place as a core subject...more effective assessment strategies are needed.” Second is “the lack of sequential kindergarten through 12th grade curricula that reflect the approaches to comprehensive arts education developed at the Regional Institutes...few textbooks reflect a broad based approach to art, and teachers have neither the time nor the resources to develop new instructional units.”