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Asking questions are in fact pleasant thing if you are not understanding anything entirely, however this post provides pleasant understanding even.

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hi.music to me is like without it life could n't be. cause even religious books say that after this life the will only be music "if at all it is true". so i came to realise the the more passion & insipiration you get, the more music is likely to evolve. am a network administrator & a dancer, but its totaly different when am dancing. i feel like there is something else in that i know nothing about. when i play the keyboard for a public, i just feel like maybe its not me cause every touch if far different from the last. maybe if the music teachers told us about the phenomenon waves of music we could do more in life. music is a formular that could be applied to all areas of life when broken down to the least pieces. music passion can drive some one crazy..........' or The discussion has been fascinating all week. Thank you for including all of us in the thoughts of this committed and varied group of people. I'm going to comment from the position of action, rather than philosophy, since I completely buy the concept that the arts are integral to a complete education. Let us not only demand arts education, but let us also demand excellence in the arts produced by students. I recently had the distinct pleasure of conducting the pit orchestra for West Side Story with a group of high school students. The orchestra parts were impossible, but through dedicated work by over forty musicians, the orchestra achieved what had seemed impossible six weeks earlier. It was a complete artistic experience for them, filled with passion, hard work and artistic focus on interpreting a transcendent work of art. My dream for arts education in America is based on Tom Lehrer - "More, more, I'm still not satisfied." I believe that all children should have the opportunity to experience art actively, through training with skilled artists; have highly trained classroom teachers who integrate artistic content and processes into their teaching in other subjects; and connect with the highest quality arts offerings available in their communities. Because the arts are products of individual expression, the experience and the output in any community will be unique. In Hawai‘i, we have formed an ArtsFirst partnership that works toward including all of the above means of accessing the arts. The group is mandated by the State Legislature and includes the State Arts foundation, the University of Hawai‘i Departments of education and humanities, the Hawai‘i DOE, the Hawai‘i Arts Alliance, the Hawai‘i Association of Independent Schools and two arts organizations - the Maui Arts and Cultural Center and Honolulu Theatre for Youth (both members of the Kennedy Center Partners in Education). Strategic planning over several years has lead to a detailed focus on Advocacy, Research, Teaching and Standards, including action steps (such as getting graduation requirements in the arts, developing a cadre of teaching artists, etc.) The group has developed a toolkit for classroom teachers with many integrated lessons - the toolkit is shared with teachers statewide through workshops and institutes. We are still far from our goal of "more, more", but the steps are in place, and we're relentless. Just having this conversation online is important to the future of the arts and arts education in America. Is it possible to include an ongoing sidebar on arts education that allows people from everywhere to share their ideas and their local means of ensuring arts learning for all ages?

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Seotons commented on

Hi, ecology is not only a matter of time, it's also a matter of responsabilities from parents to children. Never forget that.

i really enjoyed reading this. thank you

Seotons commented on

Great article! It's a reality, ecology of tomorrow begins by the education of your kids today!

I was just thinking about What We Should Expect of Public Education: Access and Equity Meet The Thorn of Quality and you've really helped out. Thanks!

Wow, I never knew that What We Should Expect of Public Education: Access and Equity Meet The Thorn of Quality. That's pretty interesting.

Terrific blog, many interesting details. I recall four of days ago, I have viewed a similar blog. Does someone know how to track future posts?

Cool story as for me. I'd like to read a bit more about this topic. Thnx for sharing that data. BTW I'm curious to know what amount of profit you get in the web. Well, I mean for advertising, reviews and others. Jane Sendrich calculate income

Wow, I never knew that What We Should Expect of Public Education: Access and Equity Meet The Thorn of Quality. That's pretty interesting...

This is a very helpful post, i hope this really helps me to complete my project.

It is extremely interesting for me to read that article. Thanks for it. I like such themes and anything that is connected to them. I would like to read a bit more on that blog soon. Truly yours

Thanks for the gorgeous writing and clear thinking Jane

Peter Linett commented on
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All week I've been trying to pin down why this conversation -- as thoughtful and valuable as it is -- seems a little airy and has occasionally made me impatient. I think it's because the topic here is (pardon the oversimplification) what the arts say about themselves rather than what they do. Not that framing and language are unimportant. But no message about the traditionally-defined arts speaks louder than what happens, or doesn't, inside a concert hall or art museum, etc. Whether we're talking about advocacy at the level of the field or marketing at the level of an individual organization, those overt messages we spend so much time and care articulating are only a small part of the total signal we're sending. And sometimes there's a disconnect between what we say about our value (and values) and how our offerings actually look and feel to the audiences and communities we're trying to engage. So advocacy and framing are, I would argue, arts management challenges, innovation challenges, even artistic challenges. When we find better, more intimate, more participatory, more colloquial, more diverse ways of connecting with people, the arts will half frame themeselves. Then a conversation like this one can do the rest. In the meantime, maybe we should think about a parallel conversation about how best to advocate for new ways of presenting the arts and construing our audiences. And the target audience for that framing effort would be ourselves.

Have just attended a workshop with Eric Booth in Australia, which was one of the most exciting thing I have recently attended too. The Australia Council for the Arts has a wonderful 3 series of videos with Eric on their site: http://www.australiacouncil.gov.au/research/community_arts/reports_and_publications/eric_booth_in_conversation Deeply meaningful and incredibly enjoyable to listen to at the same time. Martina Pook Director Artrillium House www.artrilliumhouse.com

Great post especially for those starting out.

hi.music to me is like without it life could n't be. cause even religious books say that after this life the will only be music "if at all it is true". so i came to realise the the more passion & insipiration you get, the more music is likely to evolve. am a network administrator & a dancer, but its totaly different when am dancing. i feel like there is something else in that i know nothing about. when i play the keyboard for a public, i just feel like maybe its not me cause every touch if far different from the last. maybe if the music teachers told us about the phenomenon waves of music we could do more in life. music is a formular that could be applied to all areas of life when broken down to the least pieces. music passion can drive some one crazy..........

Without some form of artistic expression taught in mainstream education, K-12, adult citizens will lack the creativity needed to solve problems working within any discipline, as well as solving personal problems. Parents should choose their children's school carefully; observe a class, interview teachers, request to read current lesson plans. And be an engaged parent in your child's education...go to all the PTA meetings and attend all conferences. there is no such thing as a failing student...what does exist is a lazy parent.

Arts education allows children to develop critical thinking, creative expression and basic learning skills through the arts. In the 21st century, arts education can and should be used to inspire the innovation and creativity needed to propel the American business community forward as well as educate and inspire our children. The Performing Arts Workshop, a non-profit out of Northern California, provides arts education workshops to local schools and communities allowing children the access to arts education they need and deserve. Visit www.performingartsworkshop.org and learn more about the programs offered as well as arts education.

Just caught this article June 10, 09... I teach instrumental music at a junior high school in the St. Paul Public Schools. This spring the district cut 19.5 elementary band and orchestra programs. Heartbreaking. This means my junior high music program will not receive instrumental students trained in grades 4,5,6. From now on, students beginning on a wind, string, or percussion instrument will start in the 7th grade, and will need to complete 4 years of learning in one. Not easy to accomplish. This new education model does not allow the public school band and orchestra programs to maintain the National Standards in performance at grade level. In turn, our inner-city high schools will not be able to serve the gifted music students, in hopes of receiving music scholorships to colleges and universities.

I wanted to share a bit about an existing ArtCorps - and to add to this exciting dialogue. Since 1999, ArtCorps volunteers have been using the arts to mobilize communities toward social change, but we are doing it in Central America! We partner with environmental, health and human rights organizations and embed this strategy into their existing outreach and education. We recruit artists of all disciplines and nationalities. We would be most interested in applying our methodology to a national ArtCorps! I would be interested to know whether there has been any action in moving this forward. If anyone has any information, please let me know! www.artcorp.org

I really like your blog. Its very Informative for me.

Notebook commented on
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The following provides many resources for a perspective on the history of art education and provides an opportunity to consider issues that have changed over time: For a Perspective on Art Education http://www.noteaccess.com/APPROACHES/ArtEd/History/index.htm

I really like the "It's not either or, it's both and." I've it before and it got me over a rough spot. I'm reminded of Kierkegaard's "Either or" and my own, "Think Galacticaly and multidimentionally " I may have misspelled, but you get the idea. Being limited to deductive logic is putting our thinking in a box. And what if it's a wrong premise? Perhaps education can produce lifetime learners, not just fodder to fill corporate slots. Kierkegaard and art education are a return to wholeness.

I am an artist, primarily in painting, although I play around with music also. I would love to know more about the Art Corps. I teach classes locally, and have worked with state and national groups. I would love to be involved with some international exchanges. I would like to just be kept in the loop to know what is going on, and how I could help. Art is so important to all cultures, and especially at this time when there is so much crisis around the world, and at home. I look forward to the things our new president will do for the arts, as well as all the other important issues facing our nation and world.

Eric, this is fascinating, and I just watched one of your presentations on WGBH. Thank you for that inspiring performance. I'm not surprised that some business people don't like the word "creativity", but you're the first to make that statement known to me, and it makes a lot of sense. Dear Anonymous -- check out Eric's presentation: http://forum.wgbh.org/wgbh/forum.php?lecture_id=3588 It might be difficult to quantify the things that make "creativity" a glaze-over word. However, when you get to the part about the company retreat and the word game, you might get the sense that the root of the problem is not trying to understand the "word dance" but rather, getting people involved in the process. By that point, it doesn't matter what you call it because the process of engaging and caring and making something you can stand by elevates the field.

When these programs begin, you will need teachers with experience in teaching hands-on illustration, graphic design, composition, figure-drawing, type design, and simplicity of messgae to students in community centers and churches. Healthy creativity to make statements, away from the isolation of computers, can invigorate a new generation and make artistic memories and friendships/job connections for young artists. Contact me when you need a teacher (credentialled) in the Sacramento, CA area for any of Obama's new programs. I am ready...and yes, I can.

Aurelie Beatley commented on

The difficulty with opening up the art world is that the artists themselves have a tendency to create an opaque universe where it is assumed that non-artists do not have the faculties necessary to understand or appreciate the artwork. The attitude is alienating and contributes to the mistaken notion that fine arts museums and the works they contain are somehow beyond the casual audience. The importance of a certain ownership which you describe, where a child can feel comfortable in a place of "high" art because they feel their own appreciation of what they experience is valid, cannot be underestimated. Which is why I absolutely love the children's book corner in the AIC. It really brings the message home that art is accessible, and fun, and that they are allowed to have opinions about it in its most humble and its most grand representations. I also have a favor to ask, if possible. I am one of the associate editors in chief of Fnewsmagazine, the student publication of SAIC. I'm writing a feature for February about Obama's arts policy and I'm looking for comments from people of interest to the Chicago art world. If you would be interested in participating with some of your opinions, please email me at ambeatley@gmail.com. I would love to talk to you. Thank you, Aurelie Beatley

Dear Mr Rockwell, I stumbled across your blog while looking for information on Obama's arts policy, and I would quite like to interview you for a feature I'm writing. I'm one of the editors in chief of Fnews, the student publication of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and one of the more important articles in the Feb issue will be a discussion of the new administration's policies regarding the arts (as well as speculation about how fast we can expect our funding to be slashed, compliments of the economic apocalypse), and any comment you would like to make on the subject would be greatly appreciated. If you would be interested in talking to me, please email me at ambeatley@gmail.com. Thank you very much, Aurelie Beatley Associate Editor in chief, Fnewsmagazine.

Fred has been involved in "learning" with students of all ages. He believes learning requires a preparation with a mental set of "I gotta do it the best I can." This begins at birth as part of a family also prepared to teach- demonstrate - model = through love, attention and building an continuing and enduring relationship. Art and Fine Arts are demonstrative experiences in seeing, doing, following, encouragement, love, because: the home, parents and family stimulate each individual's interests. Already influenced by the everyday surroundings, patterning and conditioning that is assuring and comforting.

I thought I was one of the few people who remebered the 1930's paintings in the post offices. Now I find that there is a National Artist Corp on the horizon and artists willing to work for it in 2009. Thank you.

I'm late finding this debate, but I have the excuse that I have been working hard to actually do what you are talking about. I find the discussion overwhelming. Makes me doubt whether I should be involved at all. This post is right. Making it happen for actual students is incredibly difficult on so many levels. I have no special skills. I am just a mom who saw the impact of music education on her own child and wants to provide that for children who can't afford to pay for it. The most distressing aspect is the politics: people in music ed fighting over turf rather than working together. You all are speaking from an overview position while I'm worried about getting an instrument in Donovan's hands and how to get Claudia to rehearsal. The actions you propose wouldn't filter down to my level until Claudia's a grandmother. I want to help the children that need it right now.

There are several very successful WRITERS CORPS which have been making major contributions in LA, San Francisco, DC and Brooklyn for years - for one example, check out www.dcwriterscorps.org. Drawing on this model, creation of a Green Artists Corps is a priority in a project that members of the US Partnership for the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development are developing. This project's purpose is to mobilize the arts as a catalyst for action to address the UN Millennium Goals and the Earth Charter's ethical action agenda. In these challenging times, we need artists even more - artists willing to serve as change-agents, to foster the creativity - the capacity to think outside conventional cutural boxes - we all need to face the future together with confidence and creativity.

It is all--skills, cognition, and expression. The history of arts education in Colorado (in the 80s) showed a successful push from any and all directions--arts teachers, teaching artists, professional performance organizations (i.e.,symphony, theater), and administrators and boards in school districts. Most importantly now, the landscape of electronic creating and learning has shifted into a technologically alive and personally exciting sphere--all we have to do is use it--the kids are already there. The folks who can make this happen in our schools are the taxpayers--find the ways to convince them by sharing the life-altering effects of engagement in the arts and it will happen.

Sterling Love commented on
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How about we take up the brush of our passion and paint on the canvas of our desires. It could be so very beneficial if we give the power brokers a break and take responsibility upon ourselves to create the change we want to see. We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give. — Sir Winston Churchill Aloha 2 U

lisa robb commented on
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This is the moment to seize the art ed lasso and rope 'em in. Creativity and innovation are (again and finally) being described as key drivers to a healthy economy (they leave out the healthy civilization part but that is a longer, more tough issue to argue about). One way to QUICKLY assist in increasing and improving art education (and not increase costs to districts) is to start requiring art education components in ALL undergrad college teacher education programs and in some masters' teacher education programs AND in ALL school districts' PD programs - pull off an inside job, so to speak. Also change from within is often more popular than being forced to change by "outside" requirements. Again, this is the moment, we are finally past justifying the truth in D. Golman's multiple intelligences theories. Differentiated learning styles, multi modal learning, are concepts the teacher ed programs teach but still the arts are usually left out of the picture (let's call it a painting). We will improve arts ed by bringing it into the "regular" classroom. If we train classroom teachers well this will work. The Writing Project has proven this. If educators think they "cannot write" , they do not teach it well or at all. Once educators attend a very few writing workshops, they identify themselves as writers and then report great success (and satisfaction) and renewed interest in teaching writing. Part of "what happened" to arts ed (the question and the statement) predates 1/urban districts' budget's contracting and their needs growing (AKA the rise of the property tax rate (burden) as a key indicator of "good schools"), 2/Our downward slide in the global smart kid rankings, 3/NCLB's focus on testing competencies for the three R's, and finally,4/ the fuzzy but really logic behind the often strong public/private sentiment that "the arts" are not primary to education or worse are a luxury or add on to a child's education. What triggered a lot of the problem is bound up in this: in the 1960's - 1990's women left teaching in droves (the numbers are staggering) for the bigger pay check/status jobs that were finally available to them. The days of the classroom teacher as a smart girl in her HS class who went on to a BA in English or History are over. (Potentially Inflammatory Side note: TFA, KIPP etc etc, should be credited with putting this career back on the horizon for non-education track college kids. Whether this new interest is for the right or wrong reasons is another topic entirely.) With the fast and furious flight of these woman from teaching - the quality of teaching suffered and school culture changed. At the same time, the teacher ed programs become required for certification in most districts and the BA/BS track to teaching became obsolete and then downright impossible as per the certification requirements. Not to say it is simply about a bunch of dopes then flooding education, in fact the teaching cohort got much more diverse and dynamic BUT the simultaneous move of teaching programs away from a broad liberal arts education (where the arts are imbedded into a lot of the subject matter) and to a professional school model (which left out the arts unless one is an art teacher) robbed the students of experiences that would increase their appreciation, understanding, education and interest in art forms. Fingers crossed for a new day in the secondary teacher ed programs and also for the professional development programs districts and unions offer. I hope teacher ed groups and the unions grab this opportunity and have some fun innovating thier ranks so that we can innovate public education. A final hopeful note is the recent study about Particpation in the Arts by Inland California Residents. It found that people did feel that arts were in their lives and that they experienced them, but what suprised many was that those surveyed thought of the interactions as informal (family sing alongs, art projects at school, holiday based art making) and not formal (i.e. not pay money for a seat, or a specialized class, or an admission fee). This finding helps the earlier argument about integrating arts into teacher ed programs becasue it removes the pressure to teach to the "old school/academy" norm of classic/high arts and allows for a more diverse and dynamic set of art offerings. We must shift the focus from audience development to public participation, from focus only on the professional artist and see the amateur artist as of equal interest and value. A long and winding road.

We've opened up a blog channel specifically to discuss Artist Corps at http://musicnationalservice.org/imaginartists. Please join us! Thanks, Kiff

You write: "We, as a field, we need to rethink our practices to prioritize the development of those capacities that create personally relevant experiences in the work of art, exploring and creating works that may or may not be in "artistic" media." Then Conway wrote: "Here here! But the question is - How do we do that? How in institutions that by their nature act institutionally do you give people the "artistic" experience in "artistic" media when those experiences themselves may not be conducive to being institutional?" I would like to add another "...here" to this concept. These "relevant artistic experiences" are the match that lights the candle for an artistic life. They can occur, as Mr. Sellers points out,as an outcome of the the interaction and tuning of voices(A.K.A, Csikszentmihalyi's "Flow Theory".) However, the student-teacher dynamic which occurs when corrected technique creates an improved representation of the piece (music or otherwise), causes the same "flow" of energy, and also ignites this candle called artistic expression. Finally, as others have stated, teachers need to focus on each student's personal expression and give it great value. This valuing is inherent in our current educational strands, but I do not think we state it strongly enough. Individual effort and improvement of artistic expression benefits everybody.

John,I too heard about this initiative and can readily say that after twenty-seven years as a professional spoken-word artist and performer, the last eight years have been disastrous and America needs an Artist National Service Corps. I had a conversation with an old friend just last week, a first-rate violinist and composer. Like me, he feels as if Bush and his ideologues have crushed the life from grass-roots arts. I am fortunate; I can still make a living, but my friend cannot. Grass-roots arts has become a dustbowl. We could surely use some rain, and more power to anyone in the Obama administration who can call the clouds and put tens of thousands of performers and graphic artists back to work, especially in our schools.

I'm a senior Theater major at Oberlin College. I have been working with students from ages 10-18 in the areas of education and performance for 6 years now. I'm currently implementing an original after school theater program at Southview High School in Lorain County. The program focuses on using Theater as a tool to increase reading and writing skills, confidence and professionalism, and education about social issues and wellness with 10th graders. The program with culminate with the group creating an original piece focusing on issues they see in their community that they will perform for their peers or younger students. I'm so excited about the prospect of an Artist Corps. My dream is to teach theater to at risk youths and use it as an educational and empowerment tool. If anyone has anymore information about this topic, or how to get involved in this field I would be SO thankful for the help. I don't have any set plans for next year besides trying every way I can think of to use my skills and passion in a public school or in a low income community; working with students who may not have the opportunity to explore theater otherwise. This is so exciting!! Any thoughts or advise? Or news??!!

I do watercolor, pen and in, and acrylic. I teach watercolor and belong to art groups.Art to me is a necessity for a today community.I'd love to get involved in Obama's Art Corp.I have much to contribute. Please, I'd like to be kept informed. I feel this is long overdue. Thanks, Sy Rosefelt

I came to art education, through art therapy, and frustration with the turf war has increased to the extent that I feel at odds with each profession. In education, as in therapy, I have observed professionals pursue a path of viability by "learning the language" of the administrator, or institutional model (relating more to business, than education, therapy, or art). I feel strongly that success in this regard has had the effect of diminishing the potential of art in the life of the individual. I think the notion of art as mere object - Mr. Booth's noun - has reduced art education to a syllabus of "how to's", and like the Art Appreciation course that teaches students how to be good consumers of art, the experience of WHY art is important doesn't happen. I've viewed art as an individual pursuit of meaning and my methods have followed. Although my approach to teaching has been praised by students (I call it image based and action oriented), school administrators have seemed to measure their own success by how well I conformed to their intention - something I know not to subject my students to. If methods in art instruction are indiscernible from those in conventional science or math classes, than art is presented as a dead subject, and the view of the world as something thoroughly explored (and discovered in the Columbus sense) gains adherents in young people faced with the false choice of adapting or rebelling. When pressed myself to adopt methods of instruction I felt ethically opposed to, I declined to return for the following year. Worse than the hardships brought onto myself, was the realization that I'm doomed to making the same decision again. I'm at least heartened by students who have called me years later to tell me what it meant to them.

I heard of the program on NPR today, and immediately researched it on the Internet. My name is Terrence Prather. I am a working musician in Atlanta, Ga. and have toured with international acts as a drummer. I am currently playing drums for The Breeze Kings. A week ago I went to a school event (Music Day) at a National Franchise School Program with my drumset, and performed for 2-5 year olds with songs and instrumentation of their own, and then gave them the opportunity to sit behind the drumset and have their pictures taken while they played. It was one of happiest days I've had in my career. As I started playing at a very young age; I couldn't help but imagine what musical seeds were planted on that day. I hope the program moves forward, and would like to participate in whatever capacity possible. Wonderful! Please contact me if I can be of any assistance as you move forward. Sincerely, Terrence Prather terrence_prather@yahoo.com

John, I don't want to leave this thread hanging after Eric's kind introduction! It's exciting to feel the energy building for a National Artist Corps. Over the last 18 months, an interdisciplinary group of educators, policy makers, social entrepreneurs and artists have been helping us to think through how best to implement this initiative. The Aspen Institute, Center for American Progress and several leading arts service and advocacy organizations have endorsed the idea while a bipartisan congressional caucus is forming to consider legislation. Most importantly, the grassroots made its support for Artist Corps loud and clear last June when NPAC's unprecedented national gathering of music and arts organizations voted to make "a national AmeriCorps/WPA-type program" a priority for the whole field. While I'm not authorized to speak for the Obama-Biden Transition, I'm confident that this important initiative from the President-elect's arts policy platform won't be ignored. I expect we'll be hearing more and hopefully participating in the dialogue about Artist Corps in the weeks and months ahead. Thank you, Kiff Gallagher Music National Service Initiative kiff@peacelabs.org background: http://www.musicnationalservice.org http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kiff-gallagher/innovation-strategy-music_b_113707.html http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2008/09/huckabee_event.html

Americans for the Arts is in touch with the transition team and is monitoring future arts policy based upon Obama's arts policy statement published during the campaign. For more information, see www.artsactionfund.org or contact Narric Rome, Director of Federal Affairs, at nrome@artsusa.org.

John - I share your enthusiasm for a National Artists Corps. I have been advocating for a National Artists Corps that works in concert with a Green Jobs initiative and the rebuilding of our nations infrastructure. Under my proposal artists of all media would be involved in the revitalization of our nations infrastructure and economy. As in all my efforts this proposal emerges from the grassroots. Yes a National Artists Corps could borrow from the most successful aspects of the Federal One Program of the 1930’s and would integrate what we have since learned about community and neighborhoods arts. The reality on the ground at this moment in time is that teaching and working artists are feeling the pain and need more work opportunities. What I am calling for is taking what we have learned works in educational and community settings and bringing that to the work place, to industry and to government. Teaching arts in the schools, yes absolutely it should be a vital part of the core curriculum, and now it is time to bring these projects to the community and workforce at large. It is time that we expanded the very definition of community arts and arts education. Lets advocate for a National Green Artists Corps that will help put America back to work. After all can you imagine all these new infrastructure projects without a creative touch? The possibilities are limitless, and I invite you to join with me in developing this proposal. http://communityarts.blogspot.com/

We welcome your comments and participation in the Campaign. The National Campaign to Hire Artists to Work in Schools Hiring Artists to Work in Schools and Community for Economic Stimulus and Educational Advancement December 4, 2008 "For students living in a rapidly changing world, the arts teach vital modes of seeing, imagining, inventing, and thinking. If our primary demand of students is that they recall established facts, the children we educate today will find themselves ill-equipped to deal with problems like global warming, terrorism and pandemics. Those who have learned the lessons of the arts, however – how to see new patterns, how to learn from mistakes, and how to envision solutions – are the only ones likely to come up with the novel answers needed most for the future.” Art for Our Sake by Profs. Ellen Winner and Lois Hetland, 2007 An alliance of arts leaders and policymakers in San Francisco convened this week to launch a National Campaign to promote the use of federal job stimulus funds to employ artists to work in public schools and community centers. The concept has been presented to the Obama-Biden Transition Team and to Speaker Nancy Pelosi for consideration under the new Administration's prodigious Jobs and Growth stimulus package. As the President-Elect seeks a potent formula to give the economy a serious jolt in the current recession, artists of all stripes represent a cost-effective investment to bring their performing, visual, and technical talents to a variety of school, neighborhood, housing, health, and community development settings. The National Campaign's proposal draws on the historical precedents of Roosevelt's WPA jobs program and the national CETA Arts Program of the Ford-Carter years. The CETA Arts program was launched in San Francisco in 1975 and then rapidly spread across the country with the encouragement of the US Department of Labor, the National Endowment for the Arts, and many state and local arts agencies. Particular leverage can be achieved by placing artists in public schools where the President-Elect's priority for educational improvement can be advanced while putting more people to work. As such, hiring artists can be a critical infrastructural investment that also contributes to social reform. Art forms like music, theater, dance, mural painting and poetry have demonstrated their ability to inspire students to delight in learning, elevate test scores, and bring children of diverse economic and racial backgrounds onto collaborative common ground. Community artists are invariably employed in America's large nonprofit independent sector, government's indispensable ally in providing critical services through childcare centers, soup kitchens, environmental and civil rights groups, hospitals, schools, cultural centers, and faith-based organizations. A public service employment program for artists can reach into the major urban centers and rural areas in all 50 states, promote local cultural activities and craft industries, invigorate educational reform, and pass the wisdom and talents of an older generation of artists to a new one eager to learn and participate in the economic revival of their home communities. The CETA Arts Program demonstrated success in transitioning many of these artists into full-time private sector employment in the theater, fashion, graphic design, film, animation and entertainment industries. Arts education also contributes to the economy as high school and college graduates find employment in arts and entertainment while it cultivates new and enthusiastic audiences through attendance at performances and exhibits. The creative intersection of arts and technology also enables students to harness the power of the internet and the new Web 2.0 modalities of blogs, video, wikis and the social networks to develop collaborative learning projects and hone professional marketable skills. A recent study by the Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education (CAPE) found that "integrating art in the literacy curriculum not only affected student learning, but also improved classroom dynamics and student behavior." The CAPE model demonstrates how schools can improve significantly through arts integration, teacher professional development, and teacher/artist collaboration. Similar programs across the country have produced similar results using professional artists in the schools, community centers and a variety of social institutions. In the coming weeks, the steering committee of the National Campaign will be engaging artists and arts advocates in all 50 states in the elaboration of this proposal and building a broad-based constituency to promote its adoption by the new Administration and Congress. Brad Erickson, Executive Director, Theatre Bay Area and Board President, California Arts Advocates Deborah Cullinan, Executive Director, Intersection for the Arts and Board Member, California Arts Advocates Nancy Quinn, Founder, Quinn Associates, Arts Management Services John Kreidler, former Executive Director, Cultural Initiatives Silicon Valley Ann Wettrich, co-director Center for Art & Public Life, California College for the Arts Rio Yaňez, South of Market Cultural Center staff Judy Nemzoff, Director, Community Arts & Education, San Francisco Arts Commission for more information, call or write to Michael Nolan, project consultant, at mikeydavy@gmail.com or 415-282-9043 Visit “National Campaign to Hire Artists to Work in Schools” on Facebook and watch our constituency grow.

Am entering late am taken with comments so far. A thread I read in the comments might be paraphrased as this: one of the core values of eh arts is to develop and give form to the unique voice, the personal agency, of the person--the young learner. Institutions, schools, need predictable and measurable outcomes, need clear pathways along structured curricula, and of course they do need those. But a profound tension exists, i see and think, between developing the personal voice--whether in poetry or music or visual work or through garage band or in/with any of the technologies, and that institutional need for structure. We need more actors in the world (in Hannah Arendt's sense of action, not theatre), more people with a strong sense of their personal agency. Many schools are headed in another direction. This is a conflict over values--not only the provision of resources and opportunity to learn--but the very purposes and ends of education.

THANK YOU... To all of the bloggers and commenters who have made this dialog so enriching. As has been pointed out... more needs to be done. But how? I and many of my colleagues are interested in the last statement. We fight the battle to embed the arts into our schools every day. We do it in our own ways that we each found has led to real meaningful systemic change. Others do as well. Often within our own vacuum... largely because we like to focus on creating change and this takes a lot of time and energy leaving little time or support for us to work on the broader agenda. That said, I for one would support a broader effort and look forward to hearing how this may evolve and how we can help. Thank you all again... I look forward to "what's next" Bob Morrison Chairman Emeritus Music for All

James Cuno commented on

I couldn't agree more. Thanks for this comment - James Cuno

The talk has been good. Thank you for offering this debate and thank you to the bloggers who took part. It seemed that everyone took their job seriously and with pride, which doesn't always happen. I do agree though that while talk it good, 'what do we do' is a vital, necessary step. Where does the talk leave us, if there isn't an action to follow? I know what I can do in my small world, in my small part, in my one to one connections. But what about the larger picture?

Susan Sclafani commented on

This is a very important point. When I taught in an inner city high school, I learned how few students ever went downtown much less to an arts venue. I talked with students and planned excursions to get them to places they did not think they were welcome to go. The Houston Museum of Fine Arts had a Wallace grant "A Place for All People" through which the Museum sponsored mural art in neighborhoods and at the museum, created a student docent program, and included a student photography gallery at the museum. Families came and participated because their children were part of the institution.

John, I hope Kiff Gallagher, one of our bloggers, picks up on your question. Kiff is leading the Music National Service Initiative. He is a former Clinton White House Staffer and has been heroically developing this initiative, which is breaking ground with some start up funding and pilot work underway. It is very much aligned with a possible Artist National Service Corps that may be an Obama Administration initiative. Bill Ivey is leading the arts/culture transition team, so I urge everyone who knows him to drop Bill a note about your interest in the notion of an Artist National Service Corp.

What a rich conversation! Thanks to all the contributors and to the Wallace Foundation and Rand. Another vote for the conversation to continue. I wanted to bring in the voice of some artists. These are quotes and a poem I have pinned up in my workspace. It is difficult to get the news from poems yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there. William Carlos Williams Art is everywhere, except it has to pass through a creative mind. Louise Nevelson " "There is no use trying," said Alice; "one can't believe impossible things." "I dare say you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. " When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." " Lewis Carroll There is no other place or way for us - or our children - to get this "news" except via the arts.

Thanks for this discussion. Maybe I'm stating the obvious, or this is severely off-topic, but it seems to me a major impediment in getting arts education accepted as a upgraded is the long-standing prejudice against American vernacular art as "entertainment," and this discussion has put the ultimate responsibility for arts education on children (requests/demands on legislators and educators notwithstanding) to the exclusion of the general American populace. The first point -- the prejudice -- is connected to the commercial/non-commercial dichotomy/conundrum that "successful" arts entrepreneurs have navigated in the US for more than a century (c.f. P.T. Barnum), which today leads to reviews of video games in the arts pages of the NYT but not usually to consideration in classrooms of what recent and/or contemporary American culture means to students and citizens overall in the here and now. Kids might be thrilled to discuss "art" in the context of the latest pop music, hit movies, tv shows, etc. This kind of discussion routinely takes place not in schools but on the web, in newspapers and magazines, sometimes on radio. Commercial journalism (to the extent it survives) is an unacknowledged theater for "arts education," as arts journalism is addressed to everyone who might join in or simply stumble on it. So, it seems to me, one of the missions of arts journalists is to press the discussion-- culture is now, and useful questions include what do we get from it, what are we putting into it, who else is contributing? -- in all our outlets, especially the widely accessible media that reach beyond schools to disseminate information and critical thinking across generations. Arts "education" shouldn't be for the young only; we'd be a more productive society if the general populace held as steady a regard for cultural events and policies and their implications as it does for economic matters (and way more than sports); the young would then join -- or take over -- the discussion they hear their elders having. I doubt there is any likelihood of arts education taking root in the schools if it isn't rooted in our common, everyday, everywhere culture. This would mean arts journalists would be taken seriously, too -- and be responsible themselves for high standards of clarity and analysis. May I suggest that it could lead to the financially successful purveyors of the arts - music purveyors, movie studios, Amazon, tv and cable networks, the games industry -- contributing beyond their typical tax responsibilities specifically to projects boosting discussion and participation in the arts, so as to excite/enlarge/educate the audiences they can currently claim? Probably much of what I've written here belongs in another, related blog, but this is the discussion that's been going on, so . . . best, Howard Mandel

Frankly, I don't quite get the perfectionism concern. If we're talking about quality, well the discussion is about a continued quest to learn, improve, contextualize, etc. It parallels the work of those involved ininstructional content, as well as science. If we're talking about policy perfection on the basis of access, access being whether or not students actually participate, as opposed to what most of the "audits" tell us, which is what is "offered," well then such perfectionism might be deemed to be the dismay many of us have over the number of kids who are not receiving a well rounded education that includes the arts. And, at least in the largest of the school "systems," that does in fact track to demographics. Many of us see that as a moral and human rights issue. But, I still wouldn't call it being about perfection.

Dear Mr. McLennan, When the debate on arts education has ended, please publish it in a form that can be saved to one's hard drive or to a disk. I would like to study the discussion after Christmas and give the writers the time and attention they deserve. Many thanks to you for instigating the debate. With best wishes, Elizabeth Stanford

I just found this entire conversation, by accident. I too would like to know what happens from here, because the questions raised here are the same under discussion with my graduate students and colleagues in dance education. I appreciate the archival nature of the conversations, but as a teacher, citizen, and representative of the field, how about some sort of action plan?

I have been wrestling with the problems of access, equity, and quality. After this week-long debate, my question now is what’s next? Where and how do we move from here? I would also add a thank you to the authors and the contributors of this blog. I have been checking this regularly throughout the week. This has been a great discussion.

Studio commented on
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As a practicing artist and art educator I have great esteem for the dedicated teachers who engage all children in the arts in public schools. The work that is being done is quite fantastic! All children today really do benefit from the efforts made to both practice and reflect upon works of art. Because society and our culture develop and now engage everyone in increased visual communication --with increasingly refined materials and tools --it is impossible for any child to not be responsive to the practice of visual communication and its effect. All children develop visual literacy in the process of being educated --even if the focus is on history or science. There is, however, a need to distinguish between visual arts communication and aesthetic experience. Aesthetic nourishment --practiced and observed --is not so useful or so functional as are significant visual communication skills. Aesthetic experience may have a more profound affective strength and may strengthen the imagination, empathy, responsiveness, the broad view on any topic or issue, and development in the 'diplomatic' exchange of ideas. This is not just a recognition of relationships and the creative play of coming up with something new --as in physics. Because of the necessity to evaluate and justify visual arts education there is a tendency to weigh art programs down with goals and objectives that are academic in nature. Despite the imbalance in the academic nature of understanding objectives and arriving at certain goals children do benefit immensely from the exposure and activities. And those not at all motivated do win with some time for reflection in an art class --even if they do little or nothing in a short class period. What is needed in art education is the time. Time to do more than a picture 'all at once' --which may be done in part of the 20 minutes of activity designated in a 40-minute class . What is missing is the play with the imagination through which one's own objectives and goals become clear --through the experience with materials and imagery that result in affective engagement and the wonder of what one oneself is able to achieve. A sense of wonder, quiet appreciation, empathetic response --these are engaged through quiet and through time. A picture that may take a period of weeks to develop or a visit to a museum and gallery with father, mother, or a volunteer mentor --in which group dynamics and socialization are not at play --these can deepen the value of art experiences. And - very important --we do not want all children to be artist any more than we would want all to be doctors, teachers, policemen, lawyers, etc. What children are given in our public school programs is wonderful. For those few children who are keenly engaged and obviously responsive to the materials and methods in practice --and the wonder and reflection in observation --there is a need for the advanced opportunities. Museums, private organizations, master artists, perhaps some art galleries, and some volunteer mentors should provide the opportunities that are not already provided in the public schools. This means that the kinds of experiences are significantly more than what is already done in public schools --such as the time needed for realization in fundamental drawing or painting classes --such as guidance with tools and methods --steps and processes --that are not otherwise introduced --such as exposure to colors that correspond with the world as a child views it, which may include the sepia, umbers, ochres, crimsons, cobalts, vermillion --and other colors and tones and nuances that are more than what can be learned about mixing primary colors. And - 'How to' instruction is not going to interfere with or diminish the inevitable development of personal expression. Personal uniqueness, differences --these are inevitable and easy. What is important is the expanding and the refining repertoire --a repertoire achieved through human responsiveness, perspective and accountability. For what may be original is probably universal. And the universal is shared through the development of the material --requires understanding and skill. - - - - - * Know that the existing art education programs are quite wonderful! * Consider the difference between visual art communication -- and -- aesthetic experience and development. * Consider that it is exactly that period of time in which goals and objectives are not met in which all children can benefit from the play with their imagination and the appreciation of an empathetic period of consideration and reflection. The value of this is underestimated and should count. * Consider that only a few children may be future artists --such as the future doctors or lawyers --in need of the additional art opportunities --which should exist in museum programs, with master artists, other 'extra-curriculum' opportunities --and volunteer mentors.

gigi antoni commented on
Ok, what next?:

Moy, if this is going to happen, I would like to suggest that we make sure the only frame being looked through isn’t just in school arts education, or even just a broader education frame. I think the traditional frame of arts education is too small for this conversation. I hope that the field can talk about the relationship between arts learning, 21st century skills, the future of American Education and its relationship to our country's prosperity. I think a larger Civic frame is called for. I hope that as this conversation continues; we can start to talk about what exactly we think the future role of arts education is in building successful schools, great cities and a viable future workforce. If we do, we might be able to get beyond pedagogy, disciplines, and time of day etc. If we could build consensus about what kind of arts learning systems we need to be building to get broadly valued civic outcomes for children, then getting arts education back in schools might be the opening salvo instead of the endgame. Dennie Wolf, in a comment on Eric’s last post, talks about the growing divide between who gets to develop their capacities to imagine, express and invent in school, and who doesn’t. That is the kind of frame that puts the arts right at the center of the conversation about what kind of our future America we are building.

In my experience this post is right on. It is when we work on behalf of an actual set of children, in a real district, with a specific "bewildering multitude of stakeholders", that we can hope to build relevant scalable programs that can be sustained. I think there is something about the specificity of place and time that should be taken into account when we formulate an action agenda that is likely to work across the field and on the ground. Communities can build a local frame for action by building consensus around a few key questions like: What do we value in arts education? What do we want to make happen for our children and to what end? What kind of approach do we believe will accomplish this best and why? What is possible to do now? What might we make possible in the future? What are the outcomes we want for our children? The framing conversation a community of stakeholders has before they start to take action can inform what action they take, when and why.

I couldn't disagree more with these comments. I didn't see anything in the origional post that suggested that out of school time arts instruction should replace in school instruction. I think pitting in school instruction against out of school time instruction in the arts creates a false dichotomy that has nothing to do with what is good for children. Like intrinsic-vs-instrumental, specialists-vs-teaching artists, sequential arts education-vs-integration, the answer should be both/and NOT either/or. Children in high resourced suburbs and private schools get ALL of these things. They go to private lessons and ballet classes after school. They learn to use a camera and play the guitar just because they think they might find it of interest. They go to camps in the summer to get better and better at what they are passionate about learning. Why should we expect children in our public inner city schools to go without because we are afraid that another kind of instruction will somehow be diminished or marginalized? As if in the end, one way of getting turned on and receiving instruction is all a child needs to get a quality arts education, or that one way is more important or valuable than another. If we are serious about leveling the arts learning playing field at a systemic level for students in urban school districts, we can’t afford to ignore the opportunities that out of school time offers us.

I am skimming this debate at a late hour, so excuse me if my comment reads as naive or simplistic. My observations seemed best placed here, even though the discussion continues on above for some time. My observation comes from the perspective of a theatre manager and the father of a two year old and an almost one year old. It certainly is informed by my wife's work as the leader of a professional development organization for early childhood educators. My children spend their days in a high quality child care environment. The building blocks of the arts - creative play, music, movement, elementary visual expression - are integral and intrinsic to the play that occurs in these classrooms, play that is intentionally cultivated to support my children's development. There is so much right about the learning going on in the classroom and the boundries, genres and specializations discussed in this lengthy blog are both obviously present in the play yet totally blurred. And most natural. Math is counting is music is rhyming is reading is pictures is color and shapes is drawing is writing is movement is dance is shapes is math is..... Abandoning a full aresenal of expression to fuel learning is a mistake. Infusing joy and creativity into learning is a right path. The child care teachers know how to do this. At what age do we start going wrong?

Edward, I'll resist responding with a puckish and vulgar pun, so instead I'll just add support to David and Jane on this one. The problem we face is getting and keeping the arts within the school day, with arts as central to education. The arts are relatively thriving in many afterschool and non-school settings.

Coming Out from the Inside This week-long exchange has been invigorating to follow. Earlier I was reading the posts about a possible meeting among arts educators. But then I did school homework with a thoughtful six year-old. “If there are five fish in our aquarium and we add three more….” Impatient with the lack of challenge, he and I joked, “ If a boy builds four Bionicles* that come out of four boxes and sit on one table, near three extra Legos, how many flashlights are there in the room?” Suddenly, the meeting proposal – and the week’s exchange -- appeared in a different light. There are huge urgencies in contemporary education where arts educators need to take a leading role – and not by talking to each other. Among the most pressing issues is this: “Who gets the chance to do original work -- whether that is in history, in science, in mathematics – or in music, visual arts, or dance? In fact, the equity issue of this generation is “Who has the opportunity to incubate, pursue, refine and share new knowledge/visions/ or interpretations? So a major way in which arts education might come in from the margins is to begin to talk – not amongst ourselves – but widely and as active agents – about how educators champion young people’s need (right?) to learn how to generate new ideas, works and views. That meeting could be initiated, chaired, even designed by arts educators, but just one homework session later. I want mathematicians, historians and world language teachers at the table. *Super-duper construction figures, built of many small interlocking pieces, with great names like Phantoka. Dennie Palmer Wolf Writer, Researcher

Dear John - I for one kept hoping you would join in one or more of the discussions with serious (as distinct from potshotting) intent. Part of the problem has been that there are at least 4 or so agendas being pursued, some personal, some professional, some about progress/change/moving "the field" ahead, and finally the Rand agenda about arts education and it's impact on culture. Furthermore, some of us want action, others want to dream of ideal circumstances, still others are convinced that one or more strategies will cure our ills, and on and on. The what shall we do next folk appear to have prevailed, or at least take up most of the airspace...it seems to me that since you have chosen to take a somewhat critical if not cynical attitude toward what some of us are dead serious about, you should not be surprised to feel left out or ignored... But, like I said above and in earlier messages to you, I had hoped you'd join in and contribute some solutions to problems you identified, problems relating to arts education k-12 (the Rand parameters for this discussion), and the threat to American culture should arts education in pubic schools disappear. regards Jane

viki commented on
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Question....I need numbers. What studies are recognized as valid re arts=bright, succesful, etc. Thanks, Viki

Beautifully done, Laura, pointing out that our input, like art, reflects our own thoughts, hopes, personalities, backgrounds. And Eric's point is good, that the young have new tools that we might not recognize. This doesn't indicate departure, only change. Continue this valuable dialogue.

Hi Eric... Yes... the the teacher/artist conversation has gone on for a long time. Often each is just talking past/over the other. Yet... as I mentioned in my post to Laura's "Not either/or" post... when the two sides come together to the engage our children in the arts in a real and meaningful way... magical stuff happens. The whole (working together) is greater than the sum of the parts. I feel fortunate that I have been able to see the field evolve to the point where... at least a decent sized ecosystem... NJ... arts organizations and educators are working together in a very cooperative and mutually supportive way. Most folks have come do develop and understand roles and responsibilities. The old suspicions and mistrust have given way to a real collaborative spirit. Perfect... no. But we have come a long way from the fire fights of the mid 90's. Where we take this collective conversation from here is the hard part. But... as a much wiser person once said... nothing worth doing is ever easy. And what could be more worth doing than working toward that elusive holy grail of all of the arts, in all of our schools, for all of our children, all of the time (tip of the hat for lifting this riff from my friends at the California Alliance for Arts Education)

Eric, I love Richard's list but I think there is something really important missing that is also a part of the trends I see emerging from the field. I see multiple attempts in cities (Portland, Dallas, Philadelphia, Cleveland the list goes on and on) to innovate traditional arts education delivery systems so that they can provide coordinated, scalable, sustainable, relevant, high quality experiences for whole cities of children throughout their lifetime. These attempts use policy, advocacy, and research as tools, along with coalition building, community organizing and collaboration, to create something different. These are initiatives that are not driven from an arts, arts ed, or even wholly from an education agenda, but from a broader civic agenda. These cities are working to create new delivery models for arts education that include traditional instruction through school systems, while incorporating the broader community system in which schools exist. In some cases, these initiatives are challenging traditional notions of who in our community could legitimately teach the arts, when and to what end. Ok…I will stop with all that; you know how I can get. I guess the bullet I would add to Richard’s trend list is systemic interventions and scale.

Bob, I think your observation/critique is apt. And not unfamiliar. The arts ed field is not good at actually hearing those outside its concerned cadre. We make assumptions about what people know and care about and alienate those who don't "get it." And then don't understand why. I see it at every level. I see an artist go into a school and feel she doesn't belong when the edujargon starts flying; and then artists use their lingo at a workshop with teachers and the teachers feel condescended to or dissed. Apologies and thanks for the gentle reminder. One way we could model greater inclusivity for a culture that is arts-ambivalent would at least be to communicate in ways that invite and include everyone. To walk our culturally-essential talk.

The American Assembly does such things, but not usually for a week; more like a weekend. I've pondered that question too...a type of American Assembly for Arts Ed. When you look at the list of American Assembly convenings and publications in the arts, they have been impressive. I was at one that Alberta Arthurs did on intellectual property and arts. I am not sure what practical affect the reports had on the field...

In his opening remarks, Doug notes that “a generation of Americans has not developed the skills to engage with our cultural heritage,” and that “without that engagement, the arts as we know them are unsustainable over the long run.” True enough. As a former teacher of art appreciation in a public high school in New Jersey, I doubly appreciate Doug’s concern The problem is not merely one of a relative lack of attention given to arts education in the schools, however. With respect to the visual arts at least, it is also a matter of recent trends in what passes for “art education”—which is increasingly devoted to modernist and postmodernist genres that have little relevance to our cultural heritage, while ignoring traditional painting and sculpture. On that point, those taking part in the current discussion may find of interest a recent article I co-authored with Michelle Kamhi entitled “What About the Other Face of Contemporary Art?” —reprinted (with links) in Aristos from the March 2008 issue of Art Education, the journal of the National Art Education Association. Let the debate continue! — Louis Torres, Co-Editor, Aristos (An Online Review of the Arts), and co-author, What Art Is (Open Court, 2000).

Bingo Laura (and Nick)! It is what many of us involved in the practical policy debates have been saying. It is BOTH... Nick is right... the "instrumental benefits" occur because of the acquisition of skills and knowledge in the art form. There is no reason to deny these additional benefits from arts education as long as we do not only rely on these as the reason for providing arts instruction. The same can be said for in school/out-of-school opportunities and providers. We have found in our work that the place where there are opportunities for arts organizations to provide programs is... in schools where programs are to begin with! If a school understands the value of the arts enough to include as part of the core offerings they will be much more inclined to bring in partners than those who do not. Case in point... in NJ... 89% of our schools bring programs into the schools from the non-profit arts community. 88% of our schools GO TO an arts venue for an arts programs. 94% of the schools have certified arts specialists in Music AND Art. Over 1000 non-profit arts organizations interact in our public schools. Lastly... 39% of our schools have multi-year agreements with non-profits to provide additional support to in school instruction. That means 899 schools are working with 315 non-profits in this way. This is not to say NJ is a model (we have our issues as well) but the collaborative spirit that has evolved between are arts organizations and our school-based arts program brings to life this concept that has, until now, eluded the arts and education community. It IS both and the combination adds up to more than the sum of the parts.

The discussion has been fascinating all week. Thank you for including all of us in the thoughts of this committed and varied group of people. I'm going to comment from the position of action, rather than philosophy, since I completely buy the concept that the arts are integral to a complete education. Let us not only demand arts education, but let us also demand excellence in the arts produced by students. I recently had the distinct pleasure of conducting the pit orchestra for West Side Story with a group of high school students. The orchestra parts were impossible, but through dedicated work by over forty musicians, the orchestra achieved what had seemed impossible six weeks earlier. It was a complete artistic experience for them, filled with passion, hard work and artistic focus on interpreting a transcendent work of art. My dream for arts education in America is based on Tom Lehrer - "More, more, I'm still not satisfied." I believe that all children should have the opportunity to experience art actively, through training with skilled artists; have highly trained classroom teachers who integrate artistic content and processes into their teaching in other subjects; and connect with the highest quality arts offerings available in their communities. Because the arts are products of individual expression, the experience and the output in any community will be unique. In Hawai‘i, we have formed an ArtsFirst partnership that works toward including all of the above means of accessing the arts. The group is mandated by the State Legislature and includes the State Arts foundation, the University of Hawai‘i Departments of education and humanities, the Hawai‘i DOE, the Hawai‘i Arts Alliance, the Hawai‘i Association of Independent Schools and two arts organizations - the Maui Arts and Cultural Center and Honolulu Theatre for Youth (both members of the Kennedy Center Partners in Education). Strategic planning over several years has lead to a detailed focus on Advocacy, Research, Teaching and Standards, including action steps (such as getting graduation requirements in the arts, developing a cadre of teaching artists, etc.) The group has developed a toolkit for classroom teachers with many integrated lessons - the toolkit is shared with teachers statewide through workshops and institutes. We are still far from our goal of "more, more", but the steps are in place, and we're relentless. Just having this conversation online is important to the future of the arts and arts education in America. Is it possible to include an ongoing sidebar on arts education that allows people from everywhere to share their ideas and their local means of ensuring arts learning for all ages? Aloha

Bravo. When will we realize that the power of art and arts education is NOT in a pre-constructed curriculum? The POWER of arts education is in the passion of the teacher/student, and in the challenges THEY identify as engaging. That's why arts education isn't "scalable" - it insists on being relevant and meaningful!

Bennett - bravo, and beautifully put..and a very good idea! Jane

Lindsay Price commented on

There's also something hopeful about the word 'Evergreen.' Seeing evergreens in the dead of winter always gives some proof of life. If the job never ends, then you don't worry about the finish line. There is no finish line, only what's happening now.

'We're back to one school at a time.' Ah ha. If the powers that be at large actually were for the health and growth of students, then it would be ok to put change in one school, one at a time. But that's not how they think = large scale, standardizing. This is a great post. I've been finding occasionally that my eyes are rolling back with the 'talk' of all this. Although, that's what debate is, isn't it....

JANE REMER commented on

Evergreen...what a nice euphemistical way of saying "oh, no! not again! we're back to ground zero!" whenever superintendents, arts specialists, classroom teachers, and other champions of the arts as education leave their posts. It is probably true that at each iteration of the arts education history cycle, we inch forward a bit, but alas, we also slide back. We do not chronicle or pay sufficient attention to all the important lessons learned during, for example, the last almost 50 years... What's probably important to remember is that these are indeed cycles, frightenly repetitive, but we somehow manage to survive and rise from the near dead. By the way, I would challenge that NYC Annenberg schools provided arts education for every child in those schools fortunate enough to have the grant over 5 years time. I know that the many schools I worked with did not include all the kids, alas....now, had the grant continued over time, they might have. Ah, the issue of time, again, and again.

Ed, I must second David Shookhoff's comment. Once you relegate the arts to second hand status in non-required,non-graded, non sequential and usually non-certified instruction, you've taken the heart out the arts as education for every child.

Thanks for the thoughts Sam! I am posting your comments to our statewide team working on this issue for the Department of Education and State Board of Ed. The time/place vs skills/knowledge discussion is very real right now. The challenge we are wrestling with is what this means for equity (i.e. all students) as well as avoiding what Jane aptly points out about the speed in which people what to scale an idea regardless of whether or not thee idea is baked enough to be scaled.

I love this post. It really makes me do some thinking about the vast differences in communities and learning styles throughout our nation, and what is/is not being done to reach those diverse student groups. I attended NPAC this past summer, and as Eric has mentioned, one of the three key topics discussed in the large caucus sessions was arts education. I'm inclined to ponder the question that has been posed here, of "what do we do?" So, what do we do, if there are all these different types of students, parents, teachers, schools, districts, etc.?

If you think that creativity and arts are cause for glazed donuts, try some of this brew: principal empowerment, annual yearly progress, no child left behind, vouchers, charter schools, standards, accountability, in-service, pre-service, professional development, english language learners, school reform, absentee teacher reserve, rubber rooms, portfolio, out of school time education...

Moving the arts into the after-school arena poses a serious risk of further marginalization. Administrators struggling to find room for everything in the regular school-day schedule may leap at the idea of relegating arts activities to outside-of-school time slots, thereby precluding the possibility of integrating them with the rest of the teaching and learning that happens between 8:00AM – 3PM. Enlightened principals have in some cases adopted a both/and strategy, scheduling arts classes late in the school day and then extending the work into the after-school time period (often utilizing collaborations between school-based arts teachers and outside providers.) But moving the arts completely out of the school day would be a serious policy mistake. If that’s where the puck is going, let’s get our defense to check it and send it back the other way.

Nice to see a hockey fan among the crowd. The Great One's father, Walter Gretzky, used to tell his son: "I will meet you in the winner's circle." Go Rangers.

Phil Alexander commented on

Thanks for this perspective, Richard. It helps re-frame the circular discussion, or "lack of progress," from a point of frustration that many of us feel. "Evergreen" is a lovely, evocative word -- I hope it will remind us to beware of our (short-term) successes and not take them for granted, and to not be dismayed by other (short-term) setbacks.

Laura, really helpful synthesis--nice to see that research mind at work, doing a first sort of our disparate postings. Thanks. One tiny clarification. You write: "the decline in arts participation among the young." I don't think I or others have bemoaned this, and I personally don't believe it is so. This is one of those semantic stumbles. I do see (and I think so do the other bloggers who have mentioned this) a decline in young people engaging in what have been traditionally defined as the arts, but I doubt that overall they are less artistically engaged than previous generations, just pouring their artist-selves into other media and endeavors. That said, I do see some differences in today's youth compared to previous cohorts. Most disturbing to me is a distinct decrease in comfort and capacity in metaphoric thinking. I think our aggressively literal and commercial culture has taken a toll, a serious and unconscionable toll, on the last two generations, and it is becoming increasingly visible to me in reduced capacity to create metaphors and discomfort in hanging out in metaphoric thinking and play. Eric

Bob Morrison commented on

Richard... you are correct in pointing out this work is ever green. I have often been asked "when will we be finished" with the work of having to advocate for the arts in our schools. The answer is simple. Never. As I look back over nearly 70 years of advocacy efforts - starting before WWII - parents and teachers voiced concern that programs (music) would be cut... to the threat of Sputnik... to the program cuts threatened in Chicago in the early 70's which inspired Benny Goodman to lead a protest parade through the city... to prop 13 in california (which devastated the arts programs... the recession of the 80's the birth of the modern day music/arts advocacy movement with the release of our National Education goals by the NGA in 1989... the battle over the exclusion of the arts from these goals in America 2000... the addition of the arts as a core subject in 1993's proposed "Goals 2000"... through the growth of the 90's and now NCLB and the current market meltdown... We have always had to make the case for the arts. It is only recently (15 years) that we have started to have the data and research to support the arts role as an equal partner in education. The reason, in my view, is simple. As soon as we educate one crop of school boards, superintendents, policy makers, parents, and concerned citizens... they move on and another group comes along. The education of the new group starts fresh. Am I happy about the fact that we have to constantly make the case... no. However, it is the reality of the landscape in which we operate and we have to play by the rules of the game as it is being carried out so we can achieve what we all desire... the opportunity for every child to be educated in a meaningful way with the arts. That is why our work is, as you put so well, evergreen And if I may quote from my good friend Mike Greene who was one of the instigators of the modern day advocacy movement for music and arts education... as he hammered then Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander on national television during the Grammy Awards for the omission of the arts for the national education goals and Lamar's refusal to add the arts... Mike said: "The very idea that we can educate young people in a meaningful way without music and art is simply absurd." Amen!

I do want to clarify that I wasn't necessarily offering these bullets as my own prescription of the specifics we should be employing, but as trends or buckets of work that I observe the field working on/talking about. I do think that in a general, certainly less than concrete way, you're seeing a number of ingredients necessary to pursue what has described. That being said, it's pretty complicated in terms on the details and whether or not there should or could be coordination beyond local work, as Eric has been asking about, and how well the work can be done in a large scale.

Sam, this is simple beautifully put from start to finish...I've also referred to it in my latest post... Thanks for the gorgeous writing and clear thinking Jane

Not to get all "left field" on you... but there are strategies that have worked. The game is not played at the federal level... it is a state issue. And state by state is how this will be played out. There have been several instances of people "in the field" that have made a difference - Legislation mandating music and arts for 350,000 kids - 500 MILLION dollars in funding for arts programs in California - Policies to protect arts education programs for 1.2 million kids in New Jersey. State strategies. This is not abstract... this is real change... made by real people who implemented real strategies to get something done impacting millions of kids. Nothing happens until we have fertile ground for programs to flourish. Fertile ground is tilled in the policy fields of state capitals so our teachers will have a fighting chance to provide the gift of the arts in the one place where most of our children gather... in schools. The greatest artist in residency program we have in the US is the one that takes place every day as more than 200,000 artists take up residency in our classrooms at their day jobs as... qualified arts educators. Quick fact... 85% of all music makers (of any flavor, shape or size) start between the ages of 5 and 14. And 85% of these music makers get their first musical start in schools. So for all the problems we seem to find in arts education in our schools (and I certainly understand that we have some) the practical reality is, for all the problems music... and to a large degree visual art have actually made significant contributions in engaging young people with the arts. We do not need to trash what is there... we need to find ways to make it better and bring it to even more kids in meaningful and more relevant ways. To torture an already tortured phrase... let not the good become the victim of the pursuit of the perfect.

Bau, the answer probably lies in the fact that we are considering a specific Rand document and a "research" question that frames the debate in the public schools (k-12)and the proposition that if arts education continues to diminish in our schools, it will adversely affect our culture. Clearly, we range far and wide in, around, over and under this focus, but that's my guess.

I think there are some clear trends emerging from the field, some of it is still relatively nascent, some of it is much further along: 1. Policy work, including work in federal and state policies, as well as local. 2. Advocacy, including grass roots organizing, including coalition-building, and training of parents. 3. A focus on improving, defining,and understanding quality. 4. Expanded data gathering. I think if you look at the work that Ford Foundation has been stressing with its grantees, you begin to see an interesting nucleus emerging that includes the above.

Great post. You're so right that 'should' is great on the page and in the sky but does nothing to actually move something forward.

Interesting. I've never seen arts education as a means to create artists, in whatever metaphorical sense being used. I'm sure I've said this before in other comments (it's my wee soapbox on the matter) but I see arts education as a means of expression and communication - things we all need to know how to do. And in some genres it's a way to learn how to work as a team, to build self confidence and to think independently. All of this is accomplished in the arts.

Add to that the fact that there a glut of students in post doc work right now and not enough research jobs for them. The powers that be want students to go into math and science, but what's the job world like for them?

To the Board of Trustees: My husband was recently laid off as a Community Liaison Person, after 5 years, 6 months from retirement. Prior to the Community Liaison position he was a teacher for 17 years. He has recently been applying for several Community Liaison jobs with no success. So the current opening at Field ES Principal was called since he’s been to Ross numerous times. The Principal’s secretary said that the opening is vacant but that they will probably prefer a bilingual person since the school is 80% Hispanic. I have a problem with that statement because I thought the whole point in having an expensive Bilingual program was to encourage English and not the other way around. Also it’s starting to feel like we beginning to have a Segregation Problem. Segregation is defined as such: Racial segregation separation of different racial groups in daily life, such as eating in a restaurant, drinking from a water fountain, using a rest room, attending school, going to the movies, or in the rental or purchase of a home.[1] Segregation may be mandated by law or exist through social norms. Segregation may be maintained by means ranging from discrimination in hiring and in the rental and sale of housing to certain races to vigilante violence such as lynchings;[citation needed] a situation that arises when members of different races mutually prefer to associate and do business with members of their own race would usually be described as separation or de facto separation of the races rather than segregation. If this is your intention or our intended goal, then we are heading in the right direction. We will soon have a separate community of Hispanics in DISD, a community of Blacks in the Subs and the Whites in far far north Dallas. If that is the case, we don’t need Bilingual Classes after all. So I what I need to know is why are we wasting my tax dollars if the purpose is not to educate but separate instead- cultures and people??? As a nurse in the Dallas area I’ve taken classes and seminars to be exposed to different cultures in order to be more sensitive to their ways, habits, religions, customs, etc. So why aren’t we moving toward learning from each other rather than pushing non-Hispanics farther away from each other? Does anybody have a clue? Does anybody care? Are just letting nature and selfish rule? Why are we doing that? Why isn’t somebody speaking up? Why are we elected for positions? Why are silent about this trend? What is the end result of this segregation? I have gone to some Dallas schools and actually felt like I was in Mexico-the principal Hispanic, the assist. Principals Hispanic, the secretary Hispanic, the attendance clerk Hispanic, the cafeteria people Hispanic, the bus drivers Hispanic, the janitors Hispanic, the librarian Hispanic, the counselors Hispanic, the Art teachers Hispanic, the Math teachers Hispanic, the yardmen Hispanic, the repairmen Hispanic, the taxi cab drivers Hispanic and the mail man Hispanic, the dogs Hispanic, the maintenance Hispanic, etc. Then let’s forget the Bilingual propaganda. Come on now, why did MLK die for segregation or desegregation? Then why are we condoning Segregation or just letting it happen??? We will be like the African tribes separated and fighting each other more and more possibly in 2020, all because -----nothing was done. “Dallas ISD is allowing jobs to be segregated.” Then we might as well stop Bilingual classes. Who is that helping? Thank you for reading this letter. Mrs. G. Lilly RN School Nurse

Thank you Jane for coming to our school today – PS 193Q. Along with the parents and classroom teacher, you viewed, queried and discussed what the students had learned in their dance sessions which incorporated rich vocabulary, history and choreography with Richard Toda from American Ballet Theater. As the principal of the school, I believe the Arts are integral to the education of the whole child. We’ve been able to maintain our dance program with funds from our Empire State Partnership grant, City Council Cultural Arts grant, State Senate Legislative grant, and donations from our PTA. Without these funds, it would be difficult to sustain such a wonderful opportunity for our students. As a school, we are trying to build capacity by encouraging more teachers to integrate dance into the curriculum.

Maybe we slice the school time pie the wrong way. In the traditional subject area approach, it would appear the arts will remain on the short-end. But, if we were to look at the skills students need in a different way....e.g. observational and visualization knowledge and skills. These are needed across disciplines yet the arts should have quite a bit to contribute to teaching and learning in these areas. I am the member of an ethnic minority and the arts, with heavy chips on their shoulders, have often felt as if they suffer from the same jostling for their fair share that I experienced as the member of a minority group. More and more I look forward to education that is organized around compelling knowledge and skills that cut across traditional subjects.

Hi Rob, One point of I would like to make is that in all the states where we have completed statewide census evaluations of arts education ECONOMIC CONDITION OF A COMMUNITY WAS NOT A FACTOR. It has been a consistent and surprising finding across 3 different states. It appears that the WILL of the school/parents/community is more important than the WEALTH. That said... there does exist a real set of haves and have nots... it just doesn't show up along economic lines the way most people assume.

Notebook commented on
This Conversation:

Some notes for a perspective on Art Education.

One argument that needs to added in favor of universal arts education K-graduate school is that there is a very strong correlation between arts and crafts training and success as a scientist, engineer, or inventor. Arts aren't just for artists. Arts train a general set of skills (we call them "thinking tools") that are critical to all creative thinking in all disciplines. Arts are therefore like the other "three Rs" in having both intrinsic and utilitarian functions in education. Having written a book (Sparks of Genius) and many research articles on this topic, I could go on forever, so I'll just append a few key references here and hope that this idea sparks some dialogue. Root-Bernstein R. S., Root-Bernstein, M. M. Sparks of Genius. Houghton Mifflin, 1999. Root Bernstein, R. S., Bernstein, M. and Garnier, H. W. "Correlations between Avocations, Scientific Style, and Professional Impact of Thirty Eight Scientists of the Eiduson Study," Creativity Research Journal 8: 115 137, 1995. Root-Bernstein, R. S. and Root-Bernstein, M. M. “Artistic Scientists and Scientific Artists: The Link between Polymathy and Creativity” in Sternberg, Robert, Grigorenko, Elana L., and Singer, Jerome, L., editors, Creativity: From Potential to Realization (Washington, D. C.: American Psychological Association, 2004), pp. 127-151. Root-Bernstein RS, Lindsay Allen^, Leighanna Beach^, Ragini Bhadula^, Justin Fast^, Chelsea Hosey^, Benjamin Kremkow^, Jacqueline Lapp^, Kaitlin Lonc^, Kendell Pawelec^, Abigail Podufaly^, Caitlin Russ^, Laurie Tennant^, Erric Vrtis^ and Stacey Weinlander^. Arts Foster Success: Comparison of Nobel Prizewinners, Royal Society, National Academy, and Sigma Xi Members. J Psychol Sci Tech 2008; 1(2): 51-63. web page: www.msu.edu/~rootbern creativity blog: http://blogs.psychologytoday.com/blog/imagine-that

Michigan just put in place a 1-credit minimum graduation requirement in the arts with the iterative artistic/creative process at the center of the requirement. Can we teach creativity? Well, we know that we can kill creativity so why not try emphasizing the complete artistic/creative process so that the "one right answer" approach of much traditional education across all disciplnes can be countered? Our work was influenced by the research of Robert and Michelle Root-Bernstein, authors of Sparks of Genius. In addition to their study of the thinking tools used by great innovators across time, the Root-Bernsteins have also tracked the involvement of National Scholars with the arts. There is a significant relationship between the two. Is it causal? If you read their work it has more to do with habits of thinking which the arts specifically develop but are not owned solely by the arts. We've met some resistance in shifting from a performance and trophy mentality to one which encourages students to address important questions, problems, and needs with the tools of the arts whether those be paint, brush, computer, or metal. The economy is working in our favor right now. One year after this new requirement was put in place, we don't have as many orchestra teachers asking if they need to learn GarageBand, or wondering why they might want to talk to the video production teachers in the Career and Technical Education end of their high school. The arts are needed in schools to be a persistent voice for creativity and out of the box thinking. To be that, we need to walk the talk and open our own minds in the process.

I agree 100% with your sentiments about the arts leading rather than following. But I suspect the reason that is so hard to do is that there really is no such thing as "the arts" any more. I think people interested in music are interested in music, not necessarily painting. I think that people interested in Early Music aren't (necessarily) interested in Mahler. In other words - one of the great things about "the arts" is that they speak very personally to people. But that's also the difficulty of getting consensus or group action going. I simply thing that the issues facing theater seem different from the issues facing other arts and we're many micro-communities rather than a big one. Of course there are common interests. And we should see them. And act on them. But I don't think it is in our nature because our relationships with art are so personal. This could be a bad thing when it comes to pressing issues. But in another way, I think it's a good thing.

It goes beyond the cultural contexts, ways of thinking, understanding and expression nourished by the arts. By denying children in our lower SES schools access to the cognitive skills the arts develop, these students are being denied entry points to learning critical for today. The arts use non-linguistic approaches to observing, interpreting, and creating critical to today's economy. It is no longer adequate to read and write, but to interpret multiple modalities. So, while 4th grades in one school are creating digital stories with original soundtracks, in another school across town, students' music stands hold reading first textbooks designed to raise test scores. We have an opportunity with our new administration and Congress to influence the reauthorization of NCLB. Acknowledgment of the real multimodal skills all students need to succeed within the state's educational accountability system would help move our debate from theory to reality.

This discussion is great but as long as we stay in the realm of big ideas we're never going to recognize the progress that is being made and the simple yet persistent steps that must be taken to achieve the visions we have for arts education. In terms of shifting the canon of arts education to one which more accurately reflects the diversity of its students...a change in the teacher preparation requirements by state departments of education can be an important step toward achieving this shift. We did this in Michigan with both the visual arts and music teacher preparation program standards, i.e. the bar higher education institutions need to meet to qualify for preparing teachers in a discipline. As a result of this one bureaucratic tweaking of program requirements, it is no longer acceptable for teacher candidates to be prepared solely in the Western European canon or repertoire. Has higher education suddenly shifted? It is slow and some resist but...when the state requires, compliance may precede enlightenment. The result is teachers with at least a basic understanding that there is a world outside our classrooms which may be more relevant to our students and from which we can all learn.

Bennett, Is this dream doable today? I don’t know but this was exactly how it was done when I was in elementary, junior high and high school back in the Sixties. We were exposed to vocal music, folk dance, instrumental music, and visual arts. You are also right in that some individuals gravitated towards one or two of these arts through the years. Others simply pursued other areas of interest outside the arts by the time they got into high school but at least they had the opportunities of participation at some point. The students who truly excelled were supported by community organizations such as youth symphonies and visual arts groups. Key to all of this was the devoted teacher who not only taught and encouraged but had the astuteness in identifying the gifted. This happened in the public school system in Wichita, Kansas. It was not a dream.

If everyone started their class with a song, minds would be clear and energy focused. Something as simple as that could start change. Last night I went to hear high school bands, orchestras and choirs. It was very impressive. Those who chose music that hte kids could accomplish got beautiful results, including a regional youth orchestra that played a Russian piece with a great deal of beauty and cohesiveness. There was one mixed chorus that performed particularly well. I could not help thinking about the lessons of form and harmony that those kids took into the nervous systems and psyches. We already know how valuable music is for everyone. More studies of its value come out all the time. It does not have to be high art, but it does have to be well done. High time we harnessed its power to create and refresh.

Hi Sam, All great thoughts. One though worth diving into a little deeper (and I hope others will weigh in on this as well): What happens if time and place are no longer restrictions and instead skills and knowledge are the focal point. If a student can demonstrate competency or mastery of a core subject (arts or otherwise) should that be enough to earn credit? Ultimately... should time and place matter? We are grappling with this NOW as New Jersey moves toward implementing just such a policy (Extended Learning Opportunities)... so this is not a thought experiment... but a real one the state is about to embark upon and I would welcome this esteemed groups take on it... good, bad and all as we prepare to respond to thee State Board of Education. Jane, Bennett, Others... please comment!

I hope Richard's comments here aren't lost amidst the competing debates on this blog. There really is an arts education apartheid in our schools. To generalize (knowing there are many exceptions) the haves have it, and the have nots don't. That is, the children of the affluent are more likely to have some arts education, while the others must drill, drill, drill on their tests...don't read a book, or sing a song, or draw, or run around the schoolyard in recess, because every minute is precious if our scores are to go up and we are to compete: with the other schools, states, countries, continents. So, yes, Jane Remer is so right to emphasize equity, access and quality. Without equity/access, borrowing from Seinfeld, no arts for you! And probably no social mobility, without the cultural contexts, ways of thinking, understanding and expression nourished by the arts.

Anne Averre commented on
Contact us:

In response to Ms. Fineberg: Thank you for inviting me to speak! I am a current practitioner in arts education, teaching in a public arts magnet middle school-high school in the Pacific NW. Originally a "teaching artist" as you defined it, I was displaced when certification policies changed as a result of the NCLB. Committed to our program's vision, I re-invested in the higher education system and completed an education degree. Now, I am hired as a traditional teacher while continuing to practice as a professional artist….an artist teacher? Our program is integrated, infusing arts into curriculum via a common theme with a work of art (or canon of works) & artist/art form at the center of each year's study. We intentionally focus on building relationships with students, parents and colleagues over time, guide student interest-based inquiry, use instructional strategies that support and encourage multi, cross and interdisciplinary study, and strive to infuse all instruction with high quality arts. I can proudly attest that it is working remarkably well, from results I witness daily in the classroom and as alumni return and share their stories and successes. The state and federal officials are pleased with our test scores and graduation rates. Though successful presently, in its tenure of fourteen years, our school has struggled at times to maintain its arts centered vision. Those times were primarily adversely influenced by shifts in administration. This suggests that, though many practices contribute to a program’s quality and effectiveness, two absolutely essential components for success are key. 1.)Arts friendly leaders who are flexible and open to new ideas and 2.)Continuous collaboration between teachers and administrators to determine priority for staff development, instructional practices and arts offerings. Our current administration, faculty and community are firmly committed to increasing the potential of the arts within an educational setting. For me personally, staying active as an artist equips me to make valuable contributions to the artistic development of young people through my own artistic expression. In our case exploring innovative teaching and the collaboration with others in planning, has helped to facilitate the implementation of a program of excellence.

I think a fundamental issue underlies the misunderstanding between arts and commerce. I can be argued that the culture and the arts are fundamentally oppositional to capitalism by positing that some things are more valuable than money. Jack Tchen carries this argument to the extent that culture, especially community based arts, provide the best means to counter global capitalism - http://www.communityarts.net/readingroom/archivefiles/2007/11/30_years_and_co.php

Bennett, ah, so you too were seduced by Sam's mind game...I am working with arts, classroom teachers, artists and parents tomorrow and plan to introduce it there in an abbreviated form - I am captivated by your "dream" - thank you for it; I shall sleep well this evening. Jane

Carol Fineberg commented on
Contact us:

As an educator, researcher, writer and advisor to foundations, I am particularly eager to read the entries of current practitioners of arts education including artists who elect to interact in one or some ways with kids in schools. I am interested in hearing from the traditional art, music, dance, writing and drama teachers who do exist in increasing numbers in many states, and I would like to hear from those people who call themselves Teaching Artists (with accent on both words -- artists who spend a good percentage of their time working in educational settings and about equal time involved in their own professional art world.) I would also like to hear from actors and opera singers who perform in "student matinees" in their communities, and teachers who try to infuse arts into their workaday curriculum in history, reading/literature, math and science. How goes it? Are you realizing the vision expounded on in so many of the bloggers' blogs? If so, how so? If not, why not? The larger audience for this discussion needs to hear you.

Jack Lew commented on
The A Word:

Industry is indeed looking for artists who are more than just skill based. Skill based art can and is outsourced to countries in Eastern Europe and Asia. Innovation and Creatvity cannot be outsourced...at least not yet.

Well said, Tim. And this whole idea that Eric (and you) mention is such a great point. It makes me think of an initiative in Cleveland, OH, called Arts is Education - a wonderful play on the phrasing Arts in education. It's an initiative including over a dozen schools and over three dozen arts organizations (including Opera Cleveland, I might add). The mission is to, as they put it, have "continual immersion in a comprehensive arts-infused curriculum." What a concept, and what possibilities!

Yes, they claimed to be copping to what all business people feel--that creativity is just another vague, fog-sculpting word that fluffy artsy people use. They know creativity is important, but they are so very literal in their thinking, they feel it is a soft word, and they pride themselves on hard results. That is why they prefer "innovation" because that is what they want. They know something to do with creativity is the way they get those innovations, so they are willing to tolerate some of our soft stuff, but they want to see the clear definitions, the data that we can develop develop creative capacity that produces innovations. They think we are soft, and we usually are not able to communicate with them in ways that surprise that expectation.

I have a variation on Eric's dream. Since knocking on people's doors feels a little "in your face" to me, I thought "What about an arts-based block party?" We could have face painting, square dancing, slam poetry and bookmaking, then a joyous discussion about "art in our lives" over fried chicken and potato salad. Feed them and they will come, Eric!

Richard, I think you are catching one consistent theme in this barrage of dialogue. Focus on creating an arts-rich, non-semantically-limited, engaging culture at the school and local level. Using arts teachers as resources, and taking seriously what we know about creating arts-alive cultures in classrooms and moving that into whole schools and communities.

Nicely put...let's get started

Ed - see my post today - the quality issue is enormous... Jane

JANE REMER commented on
The A Word:

I agree with your faith in local governments and all your reasons "therefore" - Jane

See my comment to Eric, earlier

Two thoughts: 1) it is "business men" who are starting to make a travesty of our schools (for a while it was the former generals), and I for one don't give a hoot what words they think are acceptable...business men think schools are there for their purposes and fodder, while most of think that schools are there to educate kids for a democracy and civil patience and service. and 2) Do I detect an element of fear in these rationales? it's almost as if a kind of self-(defeating?) censorship is at work some where? As Goodlad says, "What Schools are For....it's about education, not business.

Jerome Weeks commented on
Defying Doug:

When it comes to arts education, I don't have a problem with the "lingering, persistent commercial/non-commercial" divide for this simple reason: Sony generally doesn't need a subsidy to promote its pop-culture products. It's not a matter of snobbery; I watch plenty of TV, listen to pop music, watch popcorn movies. And I don't have a problem with using such material in a classroom. But pop culture is aggressively available to children. The 'non-pop' arts, generally the live and local ones, the 'slow ones' (museum-going, for example), are usually not pushed by billion-dollar conglomerates.

Okay, shakespeare...but that's like reading the bible..

Sam, I really appreciated your thought experiments, especially the second one~

Midori, you raise great questions, and your voice is so important in this conversation. As an aside, a thousand thanks for your contributions to music learning--you have inspired so many of my Juilliard students, and music students across the country, to expand their definition of being a 21st century musician, not to mention the thousands of learners and audience's lives you have enriched. In answer to your question about what a comprehensive music education might be for non-professionals, Howard Gardner has an interesting answer. He says it involves learning in four roles: the performer, the creator, the audience and the critic. The learning need not be deep in each role, but the balance of those four complementary roles teaches deeply, and the four have natural interplay as well as distinct skills. We tend to grossly imbalance the learning in those roles for the non-professional (and for the professional too--I think conservatory training would be much healthier with more balance). When I see kids or adults composing, and doing basic performing, and opening their hearts to fully enter a piece as an audience, and then using critical skills to understand music better, I see the beginning of comprehensive learning.

I believe that training the education system that arts teachers are "resources" in their schools is a HUGE part of the solution. As a Teaching Artist and an Arts Education Administrator for an arts organization, I have also seen this to be very effective!! I believe that it is because it does two things: 1. It starts at the ground level - where many of the contributors have already suggested it must begin. If classroom teachers in a school only view their arts teachers as babysitters of their classes while they are on their planning period, then they will never fight for the arts teacher and the arts programs when they are up for termination due to budget cuts! If the teachers see them as a resource, a person who can add to their students curriculum and in essence help them create a "WHOLE" child, then they will be the first ones to speak at a school board meeting where arts cuts are being considered. And if the teachers are speaking, then the parents and school administration will be right behind them!!! I run a program which teaches calssroom teachers to integrate the arts into their curriculum and teaches them how to use the arts teachers and our teaching artists as resources. It has been a huge advocacy tool!! And everyone (the classroom teachers, the arts teachers, the students, the parents, the administration, and my funders) are all happy at the end of the year! And they begin a dialogue which conttinues far beyond the project! Communication is key! 2. The second benefit of training schools to utilize their arts educators as resources is creating a "culture" within that school that mimicks the culture we are claiming we want in our society. A "culture" that views the arts as a resource in every society for many different things - entertainment, enlightenment, econmic development, creative workforce, etc. The arts ARE a "resource" in each of our communitites. The most effective arts speak to the community and its needs and carries its voices to the larger public. We train our students that librarians and libraries are resources in their schools and in their communities - why can't we do the same for the arts?

They don't like the word creativity? Hasn't every single invention, innovation, break out business model been because of a creative individual? For crying out loud. I guess we have to get creative and speak their language. The arts inspires and creates a platform for real world skills: expression, communication, team building, self-confidence. They don't like the word. Geesh.

Lindsay Price commented on
The A word:

I think this hits the nail on the head - the definition of 'art' is a problem and is what holds back any forward movement. So long as the arts are seen in a narrow scope how can it be brought across the curriculum? How can it be integrated? How can administrators see the wide and expansive skill set that the arts provides for students?

Laura states the obvious when she asserts that the alliance behind arts education must broaden if it hopes to succeed. Schools and education operate on a scarcity dynamic -- they are always dollars and minutes short. The arts must compete with all the other subjects for time and for resources. As subjects that are suspect in an academic environment anyway (the arts are broadly misunderstood as expressive and affective, but not cognitive), is it any wonder that principals and boards of ed give them the short end of the proverbial stick? Ultimately the arts won't succeed unless and until that dynamic changes. I would suggest that the potential for that change is higher now than it has been at any time in the last decades. The pedogogies and limits of NCLB are coming under increasing criticism. There is growing awareness that students will need far more than "the basics" in the new economy and a globe in crisis. Serious educators across the curriculum are concluding that the paradigms of schooling itself need to be rethought. To my mind, they are likely to be our most significant allies.

Evan Wildstein commented on
The A Word:

Kudos for this post! An interesting connection I've realized is that the type of education that is promoted is based on the type of individual the "work force" is looking for. In the early 1900s, the Smith-Hughes act promoted "vocational education," to train people for farm work. This made sense, then, as over 25% of the work force was employed in agriculture. Now, almost 100 years later, the work force is indeed (as you mentioned) looking for creative people and innovative solutions. Why, then, is our educational system promoting a paradigm of standards which do everything but encourage creativity. With our most recent iteration of ESEA, we are all but putting creativity in the corner.

What is it about this country that "creativity" is a word that makes people's eyes glaze over? Creativity? Really? For all our celebrations of "excellence" and the corporatization of the American rebel or, dare I say, maverick, we seem to have an innate distrust of the best even as we celebrate it. So Eric, what exactly is it about the arts or creativity that makes business people's eyes glaze over? I'd really like to understand. Any ideas?

Thanks for your comments and commitment, Mr. Hinojosa. I am very heartened to hear of your support for arts education, and for the display of support you're receiving from your colleagues. I have a suspicion, entirely unfounded, that the arts will fare better in this recession than they have in former economic crises (despite NCLB). I am part of a state wide arts program in NY State, based in NYC, so I have a rather rarified position; even so, I think there is a vigorous dialogue about arts education, and arts-in-education that didn't exist 15 - 20 years ago. Here's a question for you: What would you tell other District Superintendent's who are facing budget short falls about why they should retain arts funding and cut other areas (such as literacy, or professional development, or sport)?

Richard Kessler commented on
The A word:

These questions of definition occur partly because of the many ways in which arts and arts education takes place. You've got the disciplines, ever changing, lines blurring; you've got the originating versus interpretive, and of course, the combination of the two; you've got the professional versus the amateur; you've got discipline based or centered, versus integrated--both in a an educational framework, and more and more in how the arts are being created and performed by cross disciplinary artists. Not to mention youth development, in-school, after school, community-based, traditional versus non-traditional. It's a kaleidoscope, and you can find virtually all of the different kinds somewhere in some school and community setting.

Kiff Gallagher commented on
The A word:

Eric, Richard Baker from Louisiana also cautioned about red herrings. I gotta jump out now but will try to swirl back into the convo tonight (west coast time). Thank you! Kiff

Ahh, "both and;" thanks Richard. Of course you cannot engage without content of some kind –– maybe the question I'm trying to ask is: what's at the core of a quality arts education, and what's it's ultimate objective? To what degree should a child's natural creative drive and particular "arts" interest inform specific curricula and methods? Is that a false dichotomy or are current practices rooted in certain emphases and assumptions about this? I like the balance struck by Ms. Sclafani. Thank you, Kiff

Either/or is usually a false choice. It does not represent abundance thinking. Dewey cautioned about dichotomously looking at philosophies. We struggle with the either because there is an or. In creating a both/and opportunities for experiencing and creating arts, students have a more meaningful experience.

All change is local.

Thank you for a very interesting blog. I have a comment regarding Mr. Kessler's column in which he talked about the "arts education gap." While many private schools offer very rich arts education programs, I come from a Catholic school background, and not all private schools can be lumped together. In my archdiocese the music education is all over the map. Probably half of the teachers are degreed music teachers, but many are not. What kind of "music" do you think children in those schools learn? From workshops I can tell you that teachers are asking for good CDs and movement ideas. You can tell that there is very little real music education going on -- music class is an off period for another teacher, not a cohesive, sequential program of instruction. The attention paid to public schools is wonderful but horribly short-sighted. An arts-deprived child is still deprived whether or not he is in a public school, a private school, a parochial school, or home-schooled. So many people assume that parochial schools must have so much more because there is tuition involved. The educational foundation is there in academic subjects, but guess what gets cut when there is a budget crunch? Yup. The arts, just like everywhere else. In my school I am the only arts education. "Art" was cut many years ago, so music is it. Most arts-education grants and programs benefit public schools. (The VH1 band instrument program comes to mind. We have a pitifully small band due to cost of instruments, but there is no financial help available.) So when we talk about the "arts education gap" let's REALLY talk about the gap. It's not just in public schools. And an arts-deprived child is still deprived, whether Mommy and Daddy pay tuition or not.

Paul Erickson commented on
Contact us:

What a great blog to discover - with many thanks to my wife and her cohorts at the Detroit Institute of Arts. As a 57-year-old student teacher, I'm daily battling the incursions and distractions of students' hand-held digital media devices while trying to carve through the ennui with film-strip projectors, circa 1971. I think I'm probably not the only one dealing with techno-lag. That, in fact, is the topic of my master's thesis. Are classrooms and teachers equipped to deal with the digital millennium? Can we find ways to harness technology to our advantage and use it to engage students? I would be most interested to hear from other Luddites in the arts and educational communities regarding their thoughts about pod-pedagogy. My kids can teach me if I can only find ways to keep them awake. Any thoughts?

Dear Bob, thanks for the clarification, and it does help...I would like to know more about this work. Can you point me to a source or sources... Thanks, Jane

Eric, Let me respond from the biz side. I’ve worked in the entertainment industry for over 10 years and I have seen a continuing increase in outsourcing, especially to Eastern Europe, India, China, and now Viet Nam. The art that we outsource is primarily the more mundane repetitive work because we still believe that our artists have the creative edge but I have a feeling that this is shifting. I just returned from judging a student competition in Korea and the work I reviewed was surprisingly creative and innovative. Our competition isn’t just in Asia but some of the best work in animation and digital art come from university students in the UK, France, and Germany. There are some top level schools here in the US but the competition overseas is heating up.

Hi Bennett... I agree... It all starts with great programs and great teachers. That said... I have seen many a program fail because of a lack of supportive policies and accountability and/or a lack of advocacy. Some of the best music programs in the country (Fairfax County VA, Clark County NV) are currently at risk of reduction and program elimination. Even they know they need to advocate for their programs. I have seen great policies at the state level with NO accountability. As a result... these policies have no impact at the district level. However, strong policies with accountability to ensure the policies are implemented paves the way for great teaching and learning (with proper teachers). Without this... we end up with catch as catch can... programs where schools value the arts and no programs or weak programs where the arts are not valued. As a wise friend of mine once said... mentions are nice... mandates mater. Mandates with accountability matter most. This is all an means toward an end... making the environment right so great teachers can teach great programs for our children. It does not demean them in anyway. How long does it take to build a quality arts program in a school? 3 years? 5 years? How long does it take for an uninformed administrator to take one away? A few seconds? Under this reality... no program... even a quality program... is safe.

Departing from the "traditional arts canon" may be another way of saying that one can be adding to the canon of the future. Art is, most essentially, a unique form of creative expression, and each contribution furthers the evolution of the field. As we bemoan the lack of arts education in schools, we miss the opportunities that children of all backgrounds and economic circumstances are embracing to fulfill this intrinsic desire to create - and the commercial record, film, television, and technology industry capitalizes on it in our absence. As ideal as it would be to have skilled, creative, and highly-motivated teachers presenting well-funded, standards-based art in every U.S classroom (and all of us should remain committed to that goal), what happened to funding opportunities for parents to take their children to age-appropriate, culturally-relevant, affordable performances in accessible community venues? Are we allowing after-school options to dwindle while we pump money into research and demonstration models to bolster our case to school officials? I would caution against losing sight of the plethora of touch-points that the arts can capture with young families if the end goal is to increase the demand for the arts while the debate rages on about the value of the arts in the schools.

Hi Jane, First... nothing I am saying is dismissive about school people or their role in the process. I said data was A key not THE key to creating change. I believe a major part of the battle (after spending 20 years working on this issue from the local to national level) is to make sure conditions are right for arts learning to take place. The policy arena at the state level is where this is most effectively addressed. Our data was a catalyst for investments in California, new state laws mandating arts education for every elementary student in arkansas (now largely modeled in Louisiana), state level policy reforms and building level reporting in New Jersey, and a new series of state level policies to be released in Wisconsin. Others like the work engaged by Moy and the folks at Hewlett have had a major impact as well. Information is power and we have seen the power of having meaningful data on access and equity to help alter the environment so more kids are engaged in the arts. This is the where the leverage is to create the greatest change for the most students using limited resources. It in know way makes light of teachers or administrators... it does make the overall environment better for them to actually... have a program! I hope this clarifies my point.

Response to Bob Morrison's comment: "The formula is simple: Data informs advocacy, advocacy informs public policy, public policy creates change. The execution of the formula is a key to increased access to and participation in the arts in our schools. " While I agree that access and equity are powerful ideas, I find your statement ingenuous; it is teacher and principal and educator proof and thus bound to failure. Most of the above addresses forces outside and beyond schools. And what makes you all think that public policy about or for the arts has made an iota of difference over the last 50 years? The challenge, I believe is to accept, respect and engage the school community in this kind of discussion and thinking; data analysis and policy wonking will not create lasting change that the people in the schools will recognize, acknowledge or implement. That is the very reason that every old and recent attempt at school reform has failed. It ignores the very actors on whom sucess depends.

I think that Bob is on to something: "Most people understand the issue of basic fairness. Articulating it in a way that connects to their specific schools provides a pathway for parents to engage." We've been spending a great deal of time in building parent and advocacy coalitions. We are finding that this way of articulating the arts education issue has tremendous traction, particuly with parents of children in underserved schools. When you inform them of the minimum state requirements, seat time requirements, that their children are not getting, there is a powerful and palpable response. Much greater than we get when making the case based on what the arts do for a child. The parents seem to get that already.

It's true that it's important to teach about non-western art, but we should look at ways to incorporate both western and non-western art into a framework for arts education. For instance, one could create an art history course focusing on tracing certain basic principles of image-making througout history. In addtion, it would not be a bad idea to further emphasize inter-cultural artistic influnences, which has the additonal benefit of promoting better understanding an appeciation of other cultures.

I like Laura's questions as a way of getting the conversation rolling. I've taken a stab at each: • What should we expect of public education? • A great deal more than is currently in place. It is too early in the game to come to any reasonable conclusion about how much more. But there's little danger of us getting "too much" from the public schools before the polar ice caps melt. • Can community-based arts education programs fill the gaps left by the public schools? • Community-based arts ed programs are filling some of the gaps. (And the best also demonstrate important principles about the arts and learning that could benefit the schools.) But the gaps are enormous. Since the greatest gaps are likely to be in low-income schools and school systems, there is no good reason to think that community programs could ever fill them all. Community based programs rely on earned income (from fees and such) or on charitable contributions to sustain themselves. (Yes, there is some very modest public sector support for community programs, but these initiatives are not, like schools, tied to a dedicated tax revenue stream, so they are intrinsically unstable.) As long as school attendance is mandatory, schools are will remain the only places that all children can learn the arts. • Is it reasonable to expect arts specialists and parents to bear the responsibility of making the case for arts instruction in local schools year after year? • No! Advocacy for arts education needs to be broadened considerably. The business community and education policymakers in government and academia have shaped the debate about school reform for the last three decades. Arts education advocates need to recruit support in those groups particularly. The mounting critique of NCLB, and the development of more sophisticated ideas about the intellectual needs of the future workforce both suggest that movement in both constituencies is more likely now than it has been for generations. • What will it take to change state education policy so that all public schools offer instruction in music, visual arts, drama, and dance? • The school day is already badly overcrowded with curricular requirements, and there is not enough time to teach anything particularly well because the curriculum is ten miles wide and a half inch deep. Building a case for four more subjects in the school day will place the arts in direct competition with reading, math, science, social studies, language arts, and foreign language, all of which claim they need more time as well. That is a competition we've been losing and are destined to lose. If we want to win, we need to fundamentally reframe the debate itself. I believe that we can find allies in other curricular areas who would agree that curriculum and pedagogy need to be rethought if we really want all kids to succeed. That means we will need to fundamentally rethink the conventions of arts curriculum and pedagogy as well, a prospect that may dismay some. But Eric Booth makes a cogent case for exactly this in his posts below. • Should arts policymakers, artists, and other leaders in the artworld forge common cause with arts educators to advocate for change in state education policies? • There’s no reason to believe that such an alliance likely to succeed. (And skeptics would argue it is not even likely to happen.) The alliance must be far broader. • Is improving arts education in the schools the best way to address cultural inequity? • Yes. But I may be defining cultural inequity somewhat differently than it is defined in the RAND study. The great promise of arts education is not that more people will be capable of fully enjoying and appreciating great works of art, as lovely as that may be. Rather, the promise of arts education is awakening and enabling children's own creative and expressive capacities; preparing children to make the culture of their times; establishing the principle that in a democratic society everyone has a “voice” and that everyone’s story is significant. Enjoying and appreciating great works of art is only a small part of that promise. • If arts education were more widespread, could it offset the pervasive influence of popular culture? • This is like a Zen koanm, and here's an answer: If arts education were more widespread it would teach popular culture! • Why not let demand for the nonprofit arts shrink in response to lower demand? Aren't the arts like any other market where consumers decide what they want? • As long as the arts are fundamentally understood as a high-end consumer item requiring both money and a high end education as well (and I fear that is precisely how they are understood in the RAND report), then they will shrink in response to lower demand. In fact, the RAND report was motivated by a perception that they were already starting to shrink, or that there were signs on the near horizon that they will. Though there are plenty of studies that demonstrate a strong correlation between arts education in childhood and "arts participation" in adulthood, it is not at all clear that the relationship is causal. Nonetheless, it is an argument that may have some traction with recalcitrant cultural organizations that have historically relegated their education programs to dingy basement offices. What Eric Booth argues in his post below is that the arts are so, so much more than a high-end consumer item. They enable us to make sense of our world and communicate the full range of our experiences in ways that are beyond (or different than) science and conventional language. That’s why they belong in schools.

This is actually the problem facing a society in crisis in which most leaders are from an older generation brought up in older paradigms governing the meaning of business, politics, education, etc. It is probably what prompted the earlier "deconstructionist" theories of why we must work to constantly throw some chaos into the system to generate new patterns. In this case the youth may be the "chaos" creating tools for deconstructing our old paradigms making room for the ones to come.

Eric, I think this idea of advocating for the arts in the schools based on their capacity to foster creativity and innovation is a non-starter, for the reasons you cite. What evidence could we amass that would persuade your agnostic businessman? You'd need to demonstrate "transfer" -- the elusive gold standard of all education: there's no evidence I know of that folks who have spent a lot of time in the arts (in school or in life) are "better" than others at much of anything -- other than the work they do in their art form. As a group, they're not happier or better at managing their personal affairs or at coming up with good new ideas or with regard to any other criteria you name than people I know with little arts background. I can't envision any way to prove the claim of transfer from studying the arts to any of the skills that the business community and politicians claim they're seeking.

Good Question! As my friend Scott Shuler likes to say "what are the killer data points" needed to move policy makers? I think there are some key ones. First... the most basic is to look at who has access, to what, where and who does not. Student enrollment in arts courses (both as a raw number and as a percentage of the schools population) and by each discipline are important indicators. This clearly identifies the haves from the have nots. The type of course offerings are also important to see the breadth of offerings within a discipline. High levels of participation with broad offerings provide an indicator that can easily be compared. Just by addressing the basic issues of access and equity (or the demography issue as Richard has pointed out) reported at the explicit school level will do more than anything to move parents, policy makers and administrators to address the issue. Most people understand the issue of basic fairness. Articulating it in a way that connects to their specific schools provides a pathway for parents to engage. If we can report schools test scores in the newspaper we can certainly report an arts education index. When we did it here in New Jersey it was amazing to see how engaged in the process people became... from the State Board of Education down to parents at the local schools ... because they were able to see information about their school and compare it to others. It was now their children being impacted by the data... not some abstract extrapolated finding from another part of the country. The policy ramifications continue to this day and I am convinced, after completing similar work in Wisconsin (with significant policy announcements coming in January), that the access and equity issue is an important key (not the only one) to increased access to and participation in the arts as a part of a basic education for every child. A little more than you asked for... but this is too important a point (which I know you understand) that I wanted to provide a deeper explanation for all the readers.

Agreed, Bob. I think that there is generally strong agreement about the importance of accurate and pertinent data to support student learning, teaching and addressing the achievement gap. However, given the need for gather all sorts of education data at the national and state levels, what do you think would be the most critical data to gather, track and analyze which could give us (policymakers, grantmakers, community leaders, educators, etc.) a excellent picture of arts education in the public school system? Or, put another way, what critical questions do we need to answer with such an information system?

All great work. The question is how to we get the notion of data and research to be embedded in arts education? Information on courses, student participation, teachers, time, and funding should be readily available for all schools in every state. Right now it is only available in a few states where enlightened funders and the arts community have come together. The data we need is really the responsibility of the states to collect. It is getting them to understand the value/impact of this information and then to embrace their responsibility that is a key. I guess those of us engaged in this work will have to keep pushing until we reach this goal.

I wholeheartedly agree about the need for better data. Bob, as you're aware, we've commissioned from Stanford Research Institute (SRI) a total of six reports. The first, An Unfinished Canvas, provided the first ever statewide survey on what arts education was or wasn't being delivered in the California public schools. The remaining five studies focus on obstacles such as funding, instructional time and professional development to the delivery of arts education in CA public schools. And of course, you may know of our efforts to support better data on the performance of students and teachers, intervention programs and education spending, in particular our funding of Oakland-based Education Trust-West which has championed for more robust state data systems for California's K-12 schools and community colleges.

Kuanhunga commented on
What debate?:

So let's assume your statement here: "Arts learning - both in and out of school - opens the door to a lifetime of experiences that most young people will miss if they don't step through that door during their school years." is true. But so what? These are experiences of a sort, sure. But why are the quantifiably better than other experiences?

I totally agree Moy. We have taken a similar approach in New Jersey. The one element I would add to this discussion is... better data! We really do not know in this country who has access to (let alone participates in) the arts in our schools. Yet, in the few states that have looked at this question for every school and school district, positive changes to policy and/or funding have occurred (see California, New Jersey, Wisconsin and Arkansas). If we want to live in a nation where every child has access to an education that includes the arts then we must build a system that allows us to know who has access now (and who does not) so we can work toward universal access in the future. The formula is simple: Data informs advocacy, advocacy informs public policy, public policy creates change. The execution of the formula is a key to increased access to and participation in the arts in our schools.

I suppose the issue is that the arts is not a test score. It's not a number. From my observational experiences, administrators like to treat students like numbers. If they treated them like members of society, they would be interested in having them become something, become successful human beings and not as a number to show other admins. The arts in schools are necessary to creating human beings. It's not about improv games, or abstract paintings, or things that are seen as frivolous. We need to be able to express and communicate, to get out what is in us so that we can be successful in whatever field we chose to work in.

Lindsay Price commented on
What debate?:

Here's the example I always use to support arts education in schools. I know a teacher in Florida who was working on a high school program with NASA that combines science and drama. Because (and of course I'm generalizing, certainly there are creative people working at NASA) the young engineers are not able to communicate to their co-workers. They're not able to fully express their ideas and they lack creative expression. This is what drama teaches. Communication, Self-expression, team building. Real world skills.

Jack Lew commented on
This Conversation:

I agree that along with creative thinking skills, visual literacy needs to be taught. Following up with Graham Brown’s reference to the Harvard Medical School study, I want to include this article on another study from the medical field that cites the relationship between video games and laparoscopic skills. The point being that we need to reexamine how we deliver education today…not just Art education. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070220012341.htm

Barbara Shapiro commented on
Contact us:

I am currently a student in the field of art museum education. I have enjoyed lurking on this and other sites recently. I would like to suggest that, while arts education for K-12 is absolutely essential for a well-rounded student, the way to increase demand for and engagement in rewarding arts experiences, is to educate adults. The adult is the greatest influence on a child's access to and experience of the arts. The adult is the greatest influence on its peers, i.e., if I love the arts, I will talk about it and invite my friends, family and peers to experience it WITH me. The adult has the ability to support the arts, as a volunteer and as a patron. Focus on the adult.

I want to stand up and cheer when you write that you wonder if "we want to teach the arts to improve our culture (however that is defined) or whether we hope to produce more arts "engagement" and patrons (butts in seats), or whether we share John Dewey's conviction that the arts are important to everyone's quality of life in a democracy, for a whole host of reasons, most of which have been repeated over and over during the last fifty years without making a sustainable dent in the status quo." These are very important distinctions. Why should we be shilling for the arts? I think it is a demonstrably false idea that we should be pushing artistic experiences on people with the goal of selling more tickets. Like they have to be indoctrinated before they'll "get" some kind of idea of art that we all supposedly have. If they don't get it, maybe it's because it isn't good enough to get.

You write: "We, as a field, we need to rethink our practices to prioritize the development of those capacities that create personally relevant experiences in the work of art, exploring and creating works that may or may not be in "artistic" media." Here here! But the question is - How do we do that? How in institutions that by their nature act institutionally do you give people the "artistic" experience in "artistic" media when those experiences themselves may not be conducive to being institutional?

JonBoy commented on
Defying Doug:

Even though you hated going to the "Arts Education" exercises when you were a child, don't you think they must have had SOME affect on how you grew to love culture?

Richard's correct from the standpoint that arts education is not in our schools to create demand for the arts. The fact that arts education can aid in this area is an important benefit. However, having ALL children (and we should be clear... arts education is for EVERY child), have access to, and benefit from, active participation in the arts is to help develop a creative, engaged and contributing citizen. I have long said in my 20+ years of work in the field that we do not teach the arts to create great artists or arts consumers... we teach the arts to create great people. Supporting arts education in our schools because there is a connection to increased participation is certainly a viable strategy (and one I support). But it should never be viewed as the reason for teaching the arts.

Who says demand for the arts has declined over decades [as the abstract of your report says in its opening]? Really? By almost every measure, demand for the arts is dramatically higher than it was. More arts groups. More artists. More performances. More accessibility. More, more more. Maybe at the moment there is more supply than demand (debatable, I'd say, given that we haven't had any significant die-offs among arts institutions)but surely if you're going to claim demand hasn't kept up you need to back up the claim.

Jack Lew commented on
This Conversation:

Technology(internet, digital media, video games) is indeed alluring and highly engaging to today’s youth and embedded in current culture. Rather than looking at it as the “competition,” what can we learn from its success? Shouldn’t technology be embraced as new tools in the creative process?

isabel ohagin commented on
Contact us:

I would like to join the blog as listener/reader. Do I just click on this site? Please inform. Thank you, Isabel

elisa commented on
This Conversation:

less focus has been placed on the importance of the diversity of the arts and how it can transcend a students thinking into a conversation worth telling of not only foundations and elements of art but the history of our very existence. In other word, I have been appalled at the professioanlism =of artt eachers, specifically High School art teachers who's job it is to make sure studetns reach the highest level of study. The funding for the arts has been pushed over into other fields, giving less rise to the arts. What can be done to sustain a conversation between the arts and our cultural? Qualified teachers, colleges must maintain the requirements into any art related field. These reqirements must meet the traditonal importance first, then the new found technology. Remember if we lost a way to communicate through internet, phone, tv..what is left? the art of writing (in all forms)

Sandy Seufert commented on
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How can I particpate/listen in on this worthwhile discussion?

Several things can be done and must be done. 1. Parents must value arts in the home and in family activities. Turn off the television and allow children the pleasure of their imaginations again! Supply them with markers, crayons, simple tools of expression to begin to learn to entertain themselves... 2. PTA organizations must raise consciousness among its members of the importance of arts education and raise funds to deliver basic supplies and programs to schools with shortfalls. 3. Teachers and administrators have to show leadership in this area and push the arts to the forefront with academics; primarily, looking for and using tools and resources that promote arts integration into other subjects. 4. Cultural organizations have to learn effective partnering strategies so that they can meet constituents where they are. Delivering arts to students, teachers and schools must become a mission of arts organizations, not just delivering arts to those who can afford it.

…Will our culture suffer if we don’t do more to teach the arts? As a Canadian I would like to address this issue as it is appropriate for anyone to be concerned with the roll of the art education and culture. To understand the dilemma that faces contemporary American art education and its cultural society, we need to revisit what we mean by the arts and ask the questions of what the value of the arts is for the individual and for society. As individuals and society we need to look at what the existing devolution of the arts means to American society. Is American industry as creative or innovative as it was in the past? To do this we need to define what we mean when we refer to the arts, and thereby by extension culture. When we talk about the arts what are we saying —what are we teaching? Too often in the K-12 message we see that art is taught with the expectation of artistic practice. This is dangerous for students but equally very detrimental for parents who do not see the value in artistic practices. The parents therefor do not support the arts in the schools because they do not see the educational rigor they expect in their child’s education. Even well minded educators see the arts an unimportant activity for their K-12 charges —a make busy. They fail to see what the art’s can achieve in the child’s cognitive development. When schools teach the arts for the aesthetics they fail to reach the fullness of what the arts can do for the individual and the whole society at large. Even the very word ART is so loaded with presumed value that to understand what we mean by art we must change our language. Implicit in the opening paragraph there is the understanding that at best the art education prepare the students to become consumers of culture. The Arts gets a bad name because we make it appear to be elitist beyond the average person ability to do or comprehend. We have a division between Crafts and the ARTS. What I suggest is to forget about the training of the future consumers of cultural. Forget building audiences it will happen. By teaching art to American youth we will have participants that will contribute to the American culture. To see the arts in a new way I propose we apply Ellen Dissanayake’s “Make Special”meaning to art. When we see the making special in the drawing of a four year old we can see the cognitive thinking of that child. With guided instruction we can help that child bring forward their ideas and language development. We see the development of observation, memory, and problem solving ability and skills for that child. Above all we see the child using their tacit knowledge, information they did not realize they had, information they have to contribute to a discussion. The arts, making special, opens the opportunities to further the learning for the child. Using art as the starting point for discussion or writing, therefore, allows the children to use strength virtually all of them possess. Experience with art helps students picture, visualize what they read, aiding to comprehension. As adults in this process we can encourage or discourage this type of learning by supplying or not supplying what the child needs to learn. A learning environment is required. Each child has a learning style that can be reached through the use of the arts and use as access to the other school subjects. This does not just relate to the visual arts but can be applied to dance and music as well. But to achieve this we must acknowledge fully that the Arts as we know them is a cognitive activity and worthy of respect and encouraging the schools not for creating consumers but to achieve individuals who can think and partake in the cultural mix of an American Society. The cliché that the world is becoming more visual and less literate has never been more true than now. A new literacy is need. More and more we are receiving information from a screen, whether it be a drama or data, we are needing to be visually literate. A recent “New York Time Magazine”, Nov. 23, 2008 edition dedicated a majority of space just discussing the idea of “How We Watch Stuff”. A research publication (week of Aug. 11, 2008) from the Harvard Medical School showed that doctors-in-training who took art classes at medical school appear to have better skills of observation than their colleagues. Imagine if they had taken some art courses in their youth. The research shows that studying art can help students make up to 38 percent more accurate observations in their diagnosis. Isn’t this observational skill also needed tobe developed in children so they can create an understanding of their world. We are seeing the use of data visualization to make complex data take on a more comprehensible form. Our society is now requiring more additional visualization skills. This requirement will require more pro-active arts education tobe offered to our children. Unintended outcomes, new information, and new connections can occur when we respect the value of the arts in the educational process of our children. The arts trigger observation and ideas encouraging talking about what they see and apply what they think and know. Yes! American culture will suffer if the arts are not taught in schools. But here my reference to culture is not restricted to what is done in galleries, theaters, or on dance stages of America. The American culture is more than these limited communities, what I am referring to is the culture of business, industry, the science those elements that made America a magnate for creative, innovative and a world leader in the past. America will be less of a country because of the minimizing of the arts education in its public schools K-12 curriculum. No country can afford to outsource its creativity and innovation and expect to survive in a globalized economy. Graham A. Brown 
Executive Producer 
The Lost Language of Children 
Vancouver, BC

I teach high school art in Montana and am fortunate enough to be full time, I taught in a smaller town for 3 years and they cut the fantastic art program in half, from 7 periods a day to 3, they had Jr high art, art 1,2,3,4 photography and pottery. Needless to say I did not stay on to teach part time. I have visited neighboring small towns whom do not have an art program and am always amazed of the lack of visual problem solving skills that kids have, they are not asked to be creative visually in other classes, they are not asked to think about what a photo is trying to say, they don't look at the mixed array of architecture that surrounds them, they just see buildings. Without art education we are limiting students to never reach outside the box, not very many places for them to reach out with creativity or explore it.... Art is an area you can use the rest of your life, not just a test that will be forgotten tomorrow. You hear employers say they want well rounded employees, without the arts we are just leaving a corner on. In the arts kids discover things about themselves and are able to project that, why take it away? Just because no one has made up a standardized test on Abstract art?

would love to join this discussion- not sure how? Do I just visit the blog every day?

I received a notification about the "Debate on Arts Education," but I believe that I'm simply missing information on how to participate in the debate, or at least learn what is being said. Is this a webinar, or some other Web accessible format? Thanks for letting me know, and I look forward to the debate. All my best, Evan Wildstein OPERA America

Sandy Bertrand commented on
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Please provide information on call, ie. times, phone in number, so that I may distribute to national staff. Thank you. Sandy Bertrand Young Audiences, Inc.

Diana F. Green commented on
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Thank you! I am looking forward to this conversation! I hope to be able to spend some time checking it out next week. Have a wonderful holiday! Diana

Kevan Nitzberg commented on
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I am interested in both the visual and media arts discussions as I teach both at the high school level. Are these discussions in real time or are they more about non-linear postings that can be made at any time?


This Conversation For decades, as teaching of the arts has been cut back in our public schools, alarms have been raised about the dire consequences for American culture. Artists and arts organizations stepped in to try to... more

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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;
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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;
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