So...what will it take for every child to experience arts learning?
A number of well-articulated reasons to make arts part of every child's education from the competitive edge for America's 21st century global workforce to preservation and advocacy of selected art forms to a deeper value and commitment to make cultural literacy part of a child's education. Although meaningful, none have been powerful enough to catalyze influential leaders to create policy incentives, systemize the key solid education practices and incentives for educators to make arts part of the school week and commit to sustained and adequate funding to do so.
California has a number of foundational elements for this to happen: policy, legislative leadership, acclaimed model programs in Los Angeles, Alameda and Santa Clara, among others, and the recent landmark allocation in 2006 and subsequent funding at approximately $17 per capita. Yet the challenge to get the state's 6 million plus schoolchildren reading and writing in a state is profound with a more than 30% dropout rate, disinvested public school system (once among the top in the US) and one of the shortest school days in the country, much less to reinstitute the arts! And, that is even with some excellent policy and practices already in place.
As Richard Kessler infers, given the achievement gap, it is unlikely for schoolchildren in underresourced schools to experience arts learning in this setting.
To make arts part of a child's school week in the country will require a coordinated broad scale effort with educators, artists and business leaders. This would encompass 1) creating or strengthen policy incentives to include arts (for instance 2 hours per week throughout the school year), 2) making the instructional time in the school day/week; 3) providing sustained funds, optimally from the general fund monies; 4) having excellent professional development (pre and in service), curriculum (web-based) and formative and summative assessment for students and teachers and 5) building a multi-constituency advocacy effort with powerful messaging.
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;
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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