Arts & Education at the 2008 GIA Conference in Atlanta
- Sink or Swim: Professional Development in the Arts: Lifeboat for Educators?
- Sink or Swim: Expanded Learning Time: A Way to Keep Balance
- Sink or Swim: Integrating the Arts: A Bridge Across Subject Areas
- Roundtable: What Do We Mean When We Say… Creating a Glossary of Arts Education Terms
- How a Partnership Transforms American Education Through the Arts
- It Takes a City: Surrounding Children with the Arts
- Will the Arts Be “Left Behind” in 2009?
- Roundtable: Youth Arts AdvocacyIn Your Schools, In Your City
Sink or Swim
Moy Eng, Performing Arts Program Director and Julie Fry, Program Officer, both from the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, organized a series of three sessions on critical issues facing funders in arts education: Professional Development, Expanded Learning Time, and Arts Integration. One of these sessions was held each day of the conference.
Session 1. Professional Development in the Arts: Lifeboat for Educators?
Facilitator: Angie Kim, Program Officer, The Getty Foundation
Presenters: Mark Slavkin, Vice President for Education, Music Center: Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County; Warren Simmons, Executive Director, Annenberg Institute of School Reform at Brown University; Stan Hutton, Senior Program Officer, Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation
The Hewlett Foundation recently commissioned SRI International to produce An Unfinished Canvas: Teacher Preparation, Instructional Delivery, and Professional Delivery in the Arts. Their findings indicate that few elementary teachers participate in arts-related professional development, particularly teachers from low-performing schools. Only 12% of elementary teachers received professional development in connecting standards-aligned arts learning with other subjects. Lack of time, support from school leadership, and appropriate and affordable training opportunities all contribute to the problem as barriers. This session was designed to examine both sides of professional development delivery in the arts and explore such questions as: does professional development in the arts matter in providing quality education? How do non-arts teachers, principals, district administrators and superintendents become engaged in order to allocate time, resources and effort? What are the most effective ways of providing professional development?
Stan Hutton explained that the Heller Foundation is a small family foundation which finds in California in subject three areas: environment & health; music; and education. The education guidelines he said were a work in progress, with new attention to supporting programs for educators and artists to improve and apply their teaching skills. He feels that the key to student achievement is teacher quality. Successful professional development is an ongoing and reflective process and you must create a community of practice around teaching. They looked around the state of California to find others engaged in this and were not all that successful. Partnering with community based organizations that work with professional development efforts has been better than working with school districts. Hutton feels they still have a long way to go with this endeavor.
Mark Slavkin advocated a need to make a paradigm shift from art as enrichment to art as instructional, essential and assessed. Instruction is governed by the state adopted standards. In the arts, they have gone way overboard on standards development and compete for rigor and definition. He believes that fear created more barriers with rigorous standards, more of a Grand Canyon dividing standards and reality. What is needed is a shared delivery model, full time teachers, teaching artists and community arts partnersnot a novel idea but an essential one. The Music Center at the Performing Arts Center provides a week-long intensive arts education institute to give educators the experience and the tools to discover innovative ways to teach arts content and skills to improve and advance achievement. They facilitate partnerships between teaching artists and teachers to maximize student learning. He explained that it is a successful program, but too expensive and not systemic enough to take to scale. In he two districts where Arts for All is working in Los Angeles there is high energy but low income. The districts mandated additional time for the artswhy can't one district have what another one is having?
Warren Simmons felt the title of the session, Sink or Swim, was not well formed; rather the issue is - Swimming Against the Tideto have the arts as a part of standards. He feels there is too much attention given to school level change which undermines the districts and state reform efforts. More attention needs to be paid to the districtotherwise, there will be no success. What does the district look like when supporting professional development? Good models need to be developed. What is professional development? What do we need to do as advocates? What would a new district look like? There is an opportunity for us to shift the tide and create a broader definition of core outcomes. Cultural capital is essential. He feels that what needs to happen includes:
- Support efforts to increase outcomes and standards
- Redesign districts that are operating under capacity, that lack curriculum specialists, adequate budgets and professional development
- Acknowledging that higher education is doing a bad job
With these introductory remarks by each presenter, the group then discussed various issues which included the following provocative notions and ideas:
- The joint efforts of GFE and GIA are good, but there are other ideas, beyond funderswhat about learning outcomes we do want? That is conversation that is not happening. Why educate people? What do we value?
- We do not know everything there is to know about professional developmentdo we narrow or broaden curriculum? We need to look for alliances? Now more than ever we should pool funding into single ones to drive systems work.
- You need to bring arts and education funders together, but not just in foundationslook at your own areas and connect! Arts are central to a creative community. Our economy is increasingly interdisciplinarythere should be no more silos!
- Look to the professionalization of teaching artists. Many are soloistshere to support the development of a classroom teacher. They can be more independent. There will be some friction and tension, but it's creative tensionlet it happen!
- There is an ever widening gap between the have and the have nots. He SRI study shows this clearly. The pressure of No Child Left Behind creates a lack of support for the arts. Begin to look at a shared delivery modelkeep teachers and students engagedthey are trapped into disciplines and a narrow set of outcomes. Many conversations are happening now in light of the re-authorization of NCLB.
- The new goal is college readinessdoes this improve the opportunity for the arts or not? We all have work to do!
Session 2. Expanded Learning Time: A Way to Keep Balance
Facilitator: Frances Philips, Senior Program Officer, Walter & Elise Haas Fund
Presenters: Katrina R. Woodworth, Senior Researcher, SRI International; Jennifer Davis, President, Massachusetts 2020 Foundation; Dr. Beverly L. Hall, Superintendent, Atlanta Public Schools
There is a correlation between the length of the school day and access to arts instruction, according to SRI International's findings in a recent study by Hewlett entitled: An Unfinished Canvas: Findings in Allocating Funding and Instructional Time for Elementary Arts Education. California elementary school children spend less time in school than the national average. Allowing 26 elementary and middle schools to lengthen their school day by nearly two hours has provided more time for core subjects and arts and enrichment programs in a Massachusetts pilot programthe Expanded Learning Time Initiative. This session looked at the benefits and challenges of expanded learning time.
Katrina Woodworth provided a summary of the SRI research and study which concluded that the school day in California is shorter when compared to other states; the study also concluded that time, more than money was a barrier in the California schools lack of arts education. The study points out that: Because California elementary schools do not dedicate enough instructional time for all students to participate in the arts instruction they offer and many do not allocate instructional time for the arts at all, California elementary schools fall short of meeting the state's goals for arts education. The gap between policy and practice is most stark in California's least affluent schools, which are less
likely to offer arts instruction than more affluent schools. In contrast, exemplar schools located in communities ranging from rural Kentucky and Minnesota to urban and suburban New Jersey and Massachusetts offer sequential arts instruction in at least two disciplines.
Jennifer Davis addressed the need and the trend toward extended day across the country and the concern that the persistent achievement gap is not narrowing but the curriculum gap is. She argued there is no reason middle school needs to get out at 1:30 p.m. The National Center on Time & Learning, of which Davis is President and CEO, is dedicated to expanding learning time to improve student achievement and enable a well-rounded education for all children. The center starts with a simple premise - time matters when it comes to education. In order to help close the achievement gap and see all our students excel, we need to give them more time in the school day. Three quarters of America's charter schools have expanded learning timewhy not traditional public schools? She highlighted a program in Massachusetts which began in 2004 which began to redesign the school day and provided K-12 planning grants to schools. Thus far 7 schools, with an average cost of $1,300 per child have components of expanded learning time. His allows for core academics, diverse enrichment programs, planning and professional development. The planning process is very empowering for schools.
Dr. Beverly Hall talked about the Atlanta Public School System and how it ranked near the bottom of investments in the arts statewide when she came 10 years ago. At the time she came to Atlanta in 1998 she was the 5th superintendent there in 10 years. The arts now play a role in good outcomes; performance standards are closing the gap now and making gainsthey did not sacrifice the arts! While there is no funding available in the schools in Atlanta for expanded day now additional arts programming, they asked the Gates Foundation to make high schools smallerthey have received $10million for this. Arts have been selected as a theme for several of these schoolslooking at the arts to engage students and as a career path. The graduation rate has gone from 23% to 68% with smaller thematic schools. Under her leadership, they have never wavered from their commitment to the arts.
Jennifer Davis pointed to private partnerships with states, advocacy, technical assistance, and evaluation as key ingredients in expanding learning time. There are bills pending in Congress for Federal funding. Ten states are hoping to adopt the Massachusetts model. Sustainable models, seed grants and ongoing support are all needed. America's school day is comparatively shorter than Korean, China and Japan, all of which have high performing schools. They also go for 225 days per year to our 180 days.
Impediments to Expanded Learning Time:
- Teacher contracts and union issues: MA is a union state and teachers are a part of the design process and facilitated union agreement with the plan
- Additional compensation at a fair ratecharter schools already receive additional 20% more for added time
- Additional cost per child$1,300 per child80% is staff compensation and partnerships
What can private philanthropy do? What can private investment do?
- They can assist with start up programs, with the understanding that districts would have to take over eventually.
- It takes strong statewide advocacy; invest in advocacy.
- Think politically; educate communities to be politically savvy and creative.
- Leverage support; create credibility to make it sustainable.
- Create a plan to institutionalize.
- Scale up at a level you can sustain.
- Start small to insure implementation.
Session 3. Integrating the Arts: A Bridge Across Subject Areas
Facilitator: Frances Philips, Senior Program Officer, Walter & Elise Haas Fund
Presenters: Arnie Aprill, Founding & Creative Director, Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education (CAPE); Nancy Carr, Visual and Performing Arts Consultant, California Department Education
Does arts integration provide a connection to other subject areas in an effective manner? Do teachers typically under-trained in the arts have the facility or time to include the arts in their classroom? Does arts integration diminish teaching the arts for its own sake? These are questions this session sought to address. National research demonstrates that utilizing arts to teach other non-arts subjects can build greater learning success and help close the achievement gap for underperforming students. With arts education generally provided by a mosaic of generalist classroom teachers, arts specialists, and teaching artists integration can be a formalized system of using the arts to deepen the understanding of concepts that cross disciplines. On the other hand, the arts can be a natural way to supplement curriculum and engage student in their own learning.
Nancy Carr reminisced about how, just after WWII, there was a time when teachers knew how to use art, dance, music, and drama; these were all a part of their efforts to teach all curriculumarts were core, not integrated! Growing up, she exclaimed, her education was integrated with the artsnow there is a big hole in understanding the role of arts in schools.
Arnie Aprill explained that good arts integration today is a long term partnership between schools and arts community, connecting arts to curriculum. Superficial practice is badwe need in depth practice attending to standards to distinguish between authentic arts integration and drive-by. It requires in-school arts instructors and classroom teachers working together. Arts connect to everythingit is natural to the subject matter, not contrived and takes kids to a new level of understanding. The clearer we are on the learning needs of students and teaching needs of teachers, the better we will be at prioritizing the use of limited funds.
What is success for arts integration? A community of reflective practice. Quality arts instruction is measured in how kids:
- Develop ability to understand arts instruction
- Develop ability to ask questions
- Create work
- Perform and present
- Critique their own and others work
The teacher is responsible for instruction; many are not prepared for this. If teachers aren't prepared to move from activities to authentic thinking then arts integration helps them turn the tide to thinking conceptually. Authenticity requires leadership.
Nancy Carr feels that it is not about activities but day to day instructionscope and sequence learning. There is a growing awareness that arts must be key and we should also press to move arts to after school. If you are a grantmaker looking at proposals, what are the check points? There are three kinds of arts integration:
- Parallel whole school themes across all grades
- Cross disciplineslinking things together with natural intersections
- Infused modelthe teach has deep knowledge of art as a tool
How do we as funders find good professional developmentfor quality to drive systemic change who do grantmakers talk to? Arts providers are not necessarily the arts professional development. California has a good model for others for professional development providers.
Arnie Aprill helped to clarify how funders can identify arts education programming that can accomplish the goals of their investments by identifying ten indicators:
- Teacher Leadership
- Administrative Leadership
- Student Work
- Student Learning
- Critical Thinking Skills
He further summarized by saying that we need to cease considering direct instruction and arts integration as contrary positions that need to battle for limited dollars, and start looking at them as complementary strategies in service to learners and educators.
Arnold Aprill's white paper on Direct Instruction vs. Arts Integration: A False Dichotomy as well as Myths and Realities About Arts Integration can be found on GIA's Arts Education Resource Guide and on CAPE's website (www.capeweb.org).
Roundtable: What Do We Mean When We Say… Creating a Glossary of Arts Education Terms
This roundtable discussion was organized by Ann McQueen (Boston Foundation), Klare Shaw (Barr Foundation), and Jeanne Butler (Grantmakers in the Arts). The group discussed a draft of the Glossary of Arts Education terminology and made suggestions. Beth Feldman Brandt talked about a new survey tool that will be distributed to GIA members to look at arts education involvement and investment by funders. This survey should be complete by year's end and the results would be available to the membership in early 2009.
Ann McQueen, Julie Sponsler and Jeanne Butler discuss the May 2008 forum in Boston that engaged members of GIA and GFE in conversation, site visits and presentations over a two day period. Summaries of this forum were reported in the most recent GIA Reader.
Participants in the roundtable talked about future GIA/GFE gatherings and opportunities; Sandra Ruppert, the newly appointed Director of the Arts Education Partnership in Washington, DC talked about her desire to forge a strong relationship for AEP with both GIA and GFE and she announced the upcoming AEP forum in New Orleans on February 12-13, 2009. The group talked about a possible opportunity at this forum to have GIA and GFE members meet. No decisions were made but there was general agreement that the three new directors of GIA, GFE, and AEP should get together and discuss ways to collaborate in the future.
NOTE: A copy of the Arts Education Glossary is available here.
How a Partnership Transforms American Education Through the Arts
Organized by Susan McCalmont, Kirkpatrick Foundation, and Jeanne Butler, Grantmakers in the Arts.
Facilitator: Jeanne Butler
Presenters: Susan McCalmont, Executive Director, Kirkpatrick Foundation; Sandra Ruppert, Director, Arts Education Partnership; (Edith Harvey from the US Department of Education was to be a presenter but she was not able to attend)
Student achievement, economic development, and community life are all enhanced significantly by an education in and through the arts. The Arts Education Partnership (AEP) (www.aep-arts.org) is a national coalition of more than 100 arts, education, business, philanthropic and government organizations that demonstrate and promote the essential role of the arts in the learning and development of every child and in the improvement of America's schools. AEP was founded and is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and U. S. Department of Education in cooperation with the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies. Partnership organizations affirm the central role of imagination, creativity and the arts in culture and society; the power of the arts to enliven and transform education and schools; and collective action through partnerships as the means to place the arts at the center of learning.
Sandra Ruppert talked about the history and the impact of AEP, with its roots in federal education policy and solid research as an effective way to make the case to policy makers. AEP is not an advocacy organization, but rather comes at arts education objectively. She further explained that the 10th amendment clearly states that Education falls to the States responsibilitythe 50 states data bases are a strong and valuable web resource. AEP disseminates information on what policies support the arts. Now is the time to transform not reform arts education in our nation. We still need more analysis of state data in order to make us more effective.
Currently AEP is working with the Ford Foundation on nine community-based efforts to move education at a district level. This collaborative is integrating the arts to help schools in these 9 districts succeed, developing partnerships, capacity for communication and advocacy, and long-term investments to systemically reform education.
Over the next year AEP has planned for three forums with the theme of Transition & Transformations. The first forum will be in New Orleans, February 12-13 partnering with philanthropy to look at the cultural economy. The second will take pace in Boston/Cambridge in June and the third in Denver in late September or early October. Ruppert feels that a new collaborative effort among GIA, GFE and AEP is essential.
Ruppert summarized by stating that creativity and imagination are key elements in education for a high quality of life. Every 26 seconds a child leaves school, creating a crisis in education; more than 1,000,000 students a year! And yet, nine out of ten voters believe that imagination and creativity are fundamental for success and student achievement.
The Oklahoma Creativity Project is a prime example of this philosophy - putting imagination and creativity at the heart of civic life and watching it transform communities. Susan McCalmont talked about the project as a collaborative, statewide initiative supporting a mission to establish Oklahoma as a world-renowned center of creativity and innovation in commerce, culture and education. The Kirkpatrick Foundation provided the initial seed monies to launch this effort.
In 2005, an invitational meeting was hosted by Governor Brad Henry, which brought together over 150 leading figures from business, education and the cultural sectors from across Oklahoma. The meeting gave strong support to a statewide initiative to promote higher levels of creativity and innovation in all areas of Oklahoma life. Creative Oklahoma, Inc., the sponsoring organization, has four basic goals to:
- Leverage existing creativity and elevate the creative potential of Oklahoman
- Empower all Oklahomans to develop their capacity for creativity and innovation
- Facilitate the growth of an entrepreneurial economy that will stimulate new careers, companies and industries
- Facilitate the further development of world-class cultural and educational opportunities
The Oklahoma Creativity Project will include initiatives that result in new marketable ideas and more effective processes of innovation that capitalize on existing strengths in Oklahoma and take them to higher levels. This is an effort that engages many partners, including the arts community. A ten-minute video on the project was presented to participants.
Participants were able to discuss a number of issues and ideas. Expanded learning time was mentioned and the concerned raised that while learning happens both in and out of schools educators must make sure that the arts continue to have a place in the school day and that schools continue to meet the standards of learning.
One individual expressed a conflict about testing and if more testing is being required and how that will effect education and “teaching to the test”. Sandra Ruppert replied we have to listen to those who are demanding the testing and learn where the pressures are coming from. There is an opportunity now to have conversations about No Child Left Behind legislation as it is up for authorization. The arts can be at the center of those discussions as they have led the way in alternative forms of assessments. We need to be at the table making certain that quality arts education is maintained.
Also important is the quality of teachers, where they come from, how they are trained. Teacher preparation and professional developmentthese are tough times and they require tough choices. It is important to have the preparation and the background to understand the arts. The twin pressures of having no background and having to deliver begs the question of quality professional development and better trained teaching artists.
Finally, the necessity of framing access to equity issues and the huge need for parent advocates was mentioned as a challenge.
Sandra Ruppert concluded by stating that business and corporate interests are driving a great deal of education change. How do we reconcile this with the creative force? How do we keep from falling into a trap that equates only economic value? How do we all come together with a common message? We need creativity to make this happenwe need to find a way to reach people. The corporate community is demanding thisthere is an opportunity here and now to define arts and creativity in the curriculum.
It Takes a City: Surrounding Children with the Arts
Organized by Mary Trudel, Senior Communications Officer, The Wallace Foundation.
Facilitator: Rory MacPherson, Senior Program Officer, The Wallace Foundation
Presenters: Gigi Antoni, Executive Director, Big Thought; Susan Bodilly, Director, RAND Education, RAND Corporation; (Michael Hinajosa, Superintendent, Dallas Independent School System, was to be a presenter but he was not able to attend)
Rory MacPherson introduced this session by accenting recent positive developments in arts education such as states adopting arts standards; the growth of arts inclusion in after-school and expanded learning programs; and how arts education has become a school reform platform. However, while this has been happening, so too has focus on high stakes testing in other subjects as well as educators lack of agreement on methods and purpose for arts education. Currently, arts education has become a very fractured and complex ecology.
Susan Bodilly introduced the Wallace Foundation's commissioned study which was released in June 2008 by RAND Corporation entitled; “Revitalizing Arts Education through Community Wide Coordination”. She summarized that arts education in the nation's public schools has been declining for a generation. This report concludes this decline is due to factors ranging from the state budget crises of the late 1970s to current school reforms that focus on reading and math. Arts learning advocates have sought to counter this trend in a number of urban areas by forming coordinated networks of schools, local arts agencies, cultural organizations, funders, local government and other groups to working in concert to revive arts education. These efforts are fragile and vary widely from city to city, but they do show promise toward achieving the goal of more arts education for more children. This study examines six urban initiativesin Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles County, New York City and the Oakland-Berkeley area of California. Common strategies they have used are detailed in the study as well as conditions that have helped and hindered effectiveness. The study highlights choices the sites made on key issues, such as teaching artist involvement, priorities, content, what partners are involved, who leads. Every community is different.
Communities used multiple strategies. An initial survey audit was done to determine what vacuums existed so that prominent arts education positions could be created in a district; and capacity building in and out of school could begin through professional development, technical assistance, and coaching.
The key elements to making this successful in a community include:
- Expanding and leveraging scarce resources
- Developing case studies and advocates on state and local levels
- Creating standards and providing curriculum support
- Engaging quality providers
- Providing incentives and support
- Providing professional development
The key conditions needed to enable collaboration:
- Hunger for partners
- Capable unifying leadership
- Early seed money and on-going funding for collaboration and positions
- Regular convening of stakeholders
- Dedicated time for reflection and mid-course corrections
The key impediments to successful collaborations:
- Shifts in policy and political landscape
- Arguments over teaching methodology
- Staff and faculty turn over
- Test-based accountability in other subjects increasing competition for time and space
- Parents not making arts education a prioritythe need for parental advocacy
- In-school demand for ongoing hires, coaching, and professional development exceeding expectations
Gigi Antoni told participants a bit of the history of the Dallas school system and the testament to local advocacy that is allowing imagination to become a part of every child's everyday life through the Big Thought program. Big Thought supports community partnerships, youth development, family engagement and learning, and cultural integration for academic achievement. Big Thought (www.bigthought.org) works collaboratively with more than 70 school districts, library systems, recreation centers, juvenile detention facilities, childcare centers, and other community agencies. They likewise support teachers, parents, caregivers, librarians, and others who guide, inspire and empower children. Through their programs, Big Thought integrates cultural resources into the classroom curriculum.
Antoni highlighted lessons learned from the success of Big Thought:
- Plan and vision from a place of abundance
- Avoid unnecessary bureaucracy
- Build onnever duplicatecapacity in the system
- Acknowledge constraints
- Address barriers and deal breakers
- Bless and release
- Constantly recalibrate
- Self examinedon't criticize
Big Thought serves as a managing partner in Thriving Minds, a city-wide collaboration that surrounds children and their families with high quality arts and cultural experiences that stimulate creativity and learning. Dallas Independent School District (Dallas ISD), the City of Dallas and dozens of professional arts and cultural agencies have come together to forge this alliance. In 2007 The Wallace Foundation awarded this initiative an $8 million grant over three years; these funds will be matched and exceeded by public sector funds.
The plan for Thriving Minds includes:
- Hiring 140 additional music and visual arts specialists. So every Dallas ISD elementary school has one certified teacher in each discipline
- Instituting a Dallas requirement that every elementary student receive 45 minutes of both music and visual art instruction every week
- Developing tools for assessing and measuring students' arts learning in school
This session sought to use the findings from the RAND report and from real time, real life examples such as Big Thought to present a framework and lessons learned to further inspire local community commitments to arts learning.
Note: A pdf of the RAND report entitled; “Revitalizing Arts Education through Community Wide Coordination” is available for online.
Will the Arts Be “Left Behind” in 2009?
Organized by John Abodeely, Manager, Arts Education, Americans for the Arts.
Facilitator: John Abodeely
Presenters: Sarah Murr, Community Investor, Arts & Culture, The Boeing Company; Ayanna Higgins, Director of Arts Education, Los Angeles County Arts Commission; (Laura Reeder, Partners for Arts Education, was scheduled to be a presenter but was not able to attend)
Since being signed into law in 2002, No Child Left Behind has placed federal testing mandates for math, science, and reading thereby teaching to the tests has had a major impact on a schools' ability to offer ample time for non-tested subject areas, including the arts. At the same time the private sector, believing the arts play a vital role in learning and student achievement, has invested a great deal on efforts to improve the quality and quantity of arts education in public schools today. This session brought together experts in policy, funding and practice around NCLB's impact on the arts in schools. For funders it was an opportunity to discuss positive and negative affects of legislation on grantees and education funding practices.
John Abodeely introduced participants to facts relating to federal policy on education and how arts education is impacted by the policies of the NCLB legislation and reauthorization, as well as the Fast Response Survey System (FRSS) and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). FRS measures how much arts education is taking place in schools through a series of surveys with public school employees; NAEP is considered the “nation's report card” as it measures student learning in the arts. The only NAEP report was produced in 1997 but it is currently being conducted again and results will be available by spring 2009. The last FRSS survey was conducted in 1999, but a second survey will conducted in 2009 with results available in 2011 and a full report in 2012.
Abodeely further explained that NCLB isn't all bad. The success of NCLB is that it designated 10 core academics subjects of public education, which include the arts as one of these subjects, thereby qualifying arts instruction for diverse federal grants and other support. The challenge is that despite having designated 10 core subjects, NCLB requires schools to report achievement for only math, reading and science and that by 2014 all students must meet state-determined standards in those 3 subjects. The amount of change in student achievement required means that many schools are decreasing instructional time for other subjects, including the arts.
NCLB is intended to hold schools accountable for student achievement, return control to local authorities, and encourage instruction methods based on research. Congress has begun the process of reauthorizing NCLB for another five years, but this has been interrupted and will therefore not be considered again until after Obama takes office and a new administration and Congress is in place. The arts community, however, is in the process of gathering support and advocacy in order to ensure high-quality, ongoing K-12 arts education. The legislative recommendations for reauthorization that the Art Education Working Group, a coalition of arts & arts education advocacy organizations, has released and is working on with House and Senate committee staff include:
- Retain the arts in the definition of core academic subjects of learning
- Require annual state reports on student access to core academic subjects
- Improve national data collection and research in arts education
- Reauthorize the arts in education programs of the US Department of Education
“Thousands of people make hundreds of decisions every day that determine your child's education”. Every level of government has impact on the implementation of a law. Most of the decisions about education are local. Less than 10% of education funding comes from the federal sourcesstates mainstream the power.
Ayanna Higgins talked about the role of funders and the challenges they have faced in the LA County Schools where there are 1.7 million students. The lack of policy and lack of planning had taken a toll until a consortium of state and local organizations spearheaded an eighteen-monthlong community-based planning process which ultimately produced Arts for All: Los Angeles County Regional Blueprint for Arts Education. It was adopted in 2002 and currently provides policy changes and educational initiatives to institutionalize systemic change for K-12 arts education. Fifty organizations have committed to putting the blueprint into action.
The Pooled Fund that was set up allowed the program to leverage additional private dollars, to leverage change, provide coaching assistance, evaluation, and to create19 arts coordinators positions. Sarah Murr explained that Boeing's key focus was to increase participation in Californiathey joined the Pooled Fund and they have been enormously pleased with the phenomenal work that is being done by Arts for All. Ayanna pointed out that the Pooled Fund supports the Blueprint, not the individual arts organizations. The Fund also does their own fund-raising.
This county wide community effort allowed key elements to come together in a unique and successful way.
NOTE: For further information on No Child Left Behind, go to Americans for the Arts website, www.artsusa.org. There are a large number of articles, policy briefs, articles, and pdf's on the subject. For further information on Arts for All: LA County Regional Blueprint for Arts Education, go to www.lacountyarts.org.
Youth Arts AdvocacyIn Your Schools, In Your City
A roundtable organized by Joanna Schwarzs, Senior Program Officer, ARTWorks for Kids, Hunt Alternatives Fund and Klare Shaw, Senior Associate, Barr Foundation
Boston grantmakers such as Hunt Alternatives and the Barr Foundation are in the early stages of supporting new leadership there to build a more robust, comprehensive arts education delivery system and are seeking ways to maximize sources of public revenues for youth arts. As funders, what is our role in advocating for pubic funding? What are the good examples and lessons learned out there to consider?
Participants expressed a variety of opinions and ideas. The future for art education looks hopeful. There is interest in the arts now that education is out of the industrial modelfunding is still in many ways still based on the factory model and needs to change. Art is closer to technologysitting in an audience is over! People now self-define their creativitythey have far more creative outlets.
What are some ideas for making change?
- Identifying skeptical principals who turned around and make them your advocates
- Posting curriculum and lesson successes on a website
- Documenting everything
- Getting stories on the radioit does have listeners who will surprise you
- Finding innovated people to talk withbuild bridges to education folksconnect the arts to youth leadership
- Look to programs such as prison reform efforts, i.e. Creative Transformations
- Look for promising practices everywhere that are systemic and replicable