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The American Teacher Magazine Cover Story on Arts Education

The American Teacher is the bi-monthly magazine published by the American Federation of Teachers. The February edition has a cover story on arts education in the United States. And it's quite a swell cover!Click here to read it. For some reason, there is this underlying element in the arts that makes you feel you have to justify what you're doing, says Karla Back, who teaches choral music and music history at St. James High School in St. James, Minn.It's high time that arts classes are considered to be core subjects. No more designation as … [Read more...]

The True Nature of Mayoral Control Strikes Hard for 19 School Communities

Sometimes people lose track of what mayoral control means, particularly the pure form that we have in New York City. In New York City, it means that the mayor controls the schools and can do whatever he wants, for he appoints the majority of the the local school board (the Panel for Educational Policy) and can remove his appointees at anytime for any reason whatsoever.The vote by the PEP, the "fake school board," as some call it, was the best animation of mayoral control that we've seen in a long time. For those of you who live in another city, … [Read more...]

This Moment for the Arts Sector: Will the Economy Force Significant Change?

I first started wondering about the viability and rationality of the non-profit field when I ran the American Music Center. (Actually, I started thinking about it when I was at Juilliard, and began to realize just how many trombonists were being graduated from music schools across the United States, into a distinctly smaller job market to say the least.) I started at the AMC in 1997 and soon afterward began to notice what appeared to be an irrational growth in the number of non-profit arts organizations. It led to me my wise-crack that every … [Read more...]

The USDOE Consults with the Arts Education Field on NCLB

Okay, we're not using the name NCLB anymore, and you might think this is a bait and switch, but if I used its formal name, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), you might not know what this blog is all about. A couple of weeks ago I blogged about an invitation that was extended to arts education leaders across the nation to meet with the USDOE about ways in which arts education could be supported in the reauthorization of what was formerly know as NCLB.If you want to know more about the history of ESEA, click here.Essentially, ESEA … [Read more...]

Reflections on the Possible Closing of My High School: Beach Channel High School

It makes for a really great chest-beating sound-bite: "we just closed another low performing school!" It's all the rage in New York City, at the USDOE, and at many other urban school districts: School Turnaround. And, although the term denotes a number of possible strategies, it almost always connotes the closing of a school. And, you may ask what happens to the building after closure? Very often the building is given over to a charter school. Naturally, this ends up being a factor behind the closing of these schools and the question of who … [Read more...]

The Sweet Spot for Schools and Cultural Organzations

I once had a colleague complain to me about the disparities in quality among those organizations providing services to schools. Some programs were great; others were terrible. Some artists where thoughtfully developed and supported to work in schools; others were simply booked into the gig. Some organizations spent a great deal of time on reflective practice; others did nothing. You get the point. My colleague suggested that something should be done to establish and enforce quality. In essence he was talking about the creation of some sort of … [Read more...]

Oh NCLB, Where Art Thou?

On January 20th, the USDOE is hosting an information session for arts education constituents concerning the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), otherwise known during the Bush administration as No Child Left Behind.In regards to the arts, I know no one who holds the view that NCLB was anything but bad legislation. In a GAO report last year, it was reported that NCLB led to considerable problems related to equity and access. In other words, the kids who depend on schools the most for a quality education that … [Read more...]

The Integration of the Arts: Composer/Performers Reach Back to the Silent Film Era

There are a few composer performers who are have associated themselves with silent film greats and other great iconic comedians. The first grouping I want to point out is Bill Frisell and Buster Keaton. Then there's Don Byron and Ernie Kovacs. And, there's Dave Douglas and Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle. There are others, most notably composers who have written new scores to major silent films, such as Richard Einhorn's Voices of Light: The Passion of Joan of Arc, which is a opera/oratorio Einhorn composed for Carl Dryer's 1927 silent film. Then you … [Read more...]

Fight On: Proposed Elimination of LAUSD’s Elementary Arts Education Program

The Los Angeles Unified School District is proposing to eliminate funding for its elementary grades arts education program by the end of 2011.Here's the budget document from LAUSD. Here's the online petition against the cuts.Here's the action center of Arts for LA.According to the online petition, LAUSD is the only large urban district in the United States that provides an equitable standards-based arts education for all of its elementary students by giving them the opportunity to experience all of the four arts disciplines through the … [Read more...]

The Times They Are A-Changin’: National Funding for Arts Education

Those who have been around the block a few times will probably see this as just another instance of the vicissitudes of funding. We've seen any number of large scale funding initiatives come and go; any number of major funders for arts education come and go. Once upon a time there was the JDR 3rd Fund, The GE Fund, The Annenberg Foundation, and others.Nevertheless, the general opinion appears to be that 2009 was a pretty bad year, and it's hard to argue against that position when it comes to arts education funding.In 2009, the Ford Foundation, … [Read more...]

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