Joint Statement from Cleveland Metropolitan School District and Cleveland Arts Education Funders

The Cleveland Plan seeks to ensure every child in Cleveland attends a high-quality school and every neighborhood has a multitude of great schools from which families can choose. In a city as artistically and culturally rich as Cleveland, this also means all students should be assured that their education includes a robust education in the arts and high-quality arts experiences.

The Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) and a group of Cleveland funders — recognizing that the arts play an essential role in developing critical thinking, facilitating cross-cultural understanding, and enriching the lives of children — commissioned a study of arts education in the Cleveland schools. After several months of conducting research, surveys and interviews about arts education in the CMSD, consultant Mitchell Korn has compiled a comprehensive report that includes both extensive findings and recommendations.

There is much useful information in the report. After discussion and consultation, CMSD leadership and funders of Korn’s report have decided to focus immediate attention on five preliminary findings and immediate steps that can be taken to insure high-quality arts education in experiences for Cleveland children. These findings include:

  • The CMSD does not have a written arts education policy.
  • There has been significant disinvestment in arts education over the past decade for a variety of reasons.
  • Arts education and arts resources have not been equitably distributed across the district.
  • The rich resources of Cleveland’s cultural community have not always been used effectively and have not always been aligned with curriculum.
  • The CMSD does not have a clear inventory of the training, expertise and abilities of its arts education faculty.

In order to respond to these findings, the CMSD and funders are moving forward to develop and adopt an arts education policy and reinvestment plan. We are developing job descriptions for two new positions whose responsibilities will include developing policies, procedures and protocols that address these findings. One position (Plan Manager) will be internally focused, responsible for crafting and implementing a comprehensive district-wide arts education policy. The other (Partnership Manager) will focus externally on finding the best ways to work with Cleveland’s arts community to benefit our children. The CMSD will also create a working group of representatives from both the district and the arts community to assure success of this work.

Funders and CMSD leadership thank the many principals, teachers, parents, artists, arts educators and arts administrators who participated in the study. We hope they will support us in our ongoing efforts to provide equitable access to a high- quality arts education for all our children.

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Funders include the Abington, Bruening, Cleveland, George Gund, Martha Holden Jennings, Kulas, Murphy and Thomas H. White Foundations.