I'm grateful to all of the other bloggers for spelling out the wide range of issues that make it so important - and so tough - for the whole ecology of kids' arts learning to make progress.
And it is an ecology. Kids encounter the arts at home and in their own neighborhoods; they either experience the arts in school or work around the lack of good arts experiences in school; many kids take music or dance lessons after school; many more sign up for after-school programs that emphasize the arts and are taught by artists; and then there are the incredibly diverse summer arts programs. And wait - they can't succeed without vibrant college faculty to train them, state arts agencies to support and connect them, and at the top of the list, arts organizations to feed them by offering both excitement and learning.
Depending on the luck of the draw, kids either have a rich menu of arts learning opportunities; a few scattered and fragmentary chances in a school play, a band or a church choir; or an arts drought that dries up their chances to experience the arts for years. The quality of their lives as young artists depends on luck, too - luck in finding teachers who had opportunities to be challenged to improve their practices, luck in encountering an arts curriculum that connects with and excites them, and luck in simply finding out where the exciting arts experiences can be found in their neighborhood.
"Luck," in this story, is another word for inequity. Most of the kids with luck live in affluent communities, and most of the kids without luck live in low and moderate income communities. So we need more of the arts learning audits that have provided the kick in the pants that has gotten some leading cities to tackle the inequities.
No one of us can, by ourselves, create the arts learning ecology our kids need. But together we can get there. Pluralism is our greatest ally. Need proof? Go to Dallas and look at the work of Big Thought.
The changes our kids need and deserve will take the energies of parents, artists, principals and teachers, college faculty, mayors and business leaders. In this unfolding conversation, artists have a special responsibility: to argue for their ideals while educating the rest of us.
Sam Hope, executive director, The National Office for Arts Accreditation (NOAA);
Jack Lew, Global University Relations Manager for Art Talent at EA;
Laura Zakaras, RAND;
James Cuno, Director, Art Institute of Chicago;
Richard Kessler, Executive Director, Center for Arts Education;
Eric Booth, Actor;
Bau Graves, Executive director, Old Town School of Folk Music;
Kiff Gallagher, Founder & CEO of the Music National Service Initiative and MusicianCorps
Bennett Reimer, Founder of the Center for the Study of Education and the Musical Experience, author of A Philosophy of Music Education;
Edward Pauly, the director of research and evaluation at The Wallace Foundation;
Moy Eng, Program Director of the Performing Arts Program at The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation;
John Rockwell, critic;
Susan Sclafani, Managing Director, Chartwell Education Group;
Jane Remer, Author, Educator, Researcher
Michael Hinojosa, General Superintendent, Dallas Independent School District
Peter Sellars, director
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