Susan Riley

Susan Riley

This summer, many teachers and administrators across the country will be attending conferences and professional development sessions that focus on the Common Core State Standards in preparation for the upcoming school year.  Before many of their toes even touch a sandy beach, these dedicated educators will cross hundreds of miles and spend many hours getting ready for a whole new way of instruction.

But where are the Arts?

What happens to our arts teachers, museum curators, performers, teaching artists and arts administrators?  Are they afforded the same opportunity as their peers for rigorous, relevant professional development in unpacking the Common Core Standards for their subject areas?  As has happened so often in the past, for many the answer is a resounding “no.”

These educators may instead be expected to attend the same sessions as their colleagues from English Language Arts and Math and to “make connections” to what is being presented.  Different program, same delivery.

I think this is a huge problem for a number of reasons.  First, the arts teachers, artists, and administrators need to see that the Common Core is not an “add-on,” but rather a reflection of deeper thinking and building enduring practices that span all content areas.   Not to mention that we would never ask reading and math teachers to attend professional development that wasn’t clearly about their content and then ask them to make connections.  Equity in all contents is the key to building a stronger foundational base of support for any professional development.

Secondly, I believe whole-heartedly that the Arts hold the key to unlocking the potential of the Common Core and bringing them to life.  The Common Core Standards are written in a way which engages students in problem-solving, inquiry, collaboration and critical thinking.  The skills that are taught cannot be singularly tested in a vacuum.  Instead, they are assessed in relationship with each other.  The arts are the pathways between the skills which enable students to build those relationships between concepts.

With this in mind, my team and I set out on a mission to offer professional development this summer that was dedicated to sharing how the arts make these connections, skills and strategies in the arts that can be used to integrate teaching, and to provide a platform of advocacy that showcases the true need for arts as rigorous courses in their own right in the Common Core fabric.

The Connectivity Conference 2013 is an online, Arts Integration conference that provides relevant and engaging professional development to all educators interested in using the arts as an approach to learning.  We have speakers and presenters from all over the nation, including Kristen Engebretsen from Americans for the Arts, who will be sharing their perspectives as teachers and artists with us throughout the day.  I encourage you to explore this opportunity for bringing the Common Core to life through the arts, and extend a personal invitation to welcome you as a collaborator in this journey.

For more information about the intersection of the arts and Common Core, you can read 20 essays right here on ARTSblog that I and others contributed last year.

The conference will take place live on Friday, July 26th, but will also be available on-demand afterwards. To register for the Connectivity Conference, visit

One Response to “The heART of the Core: Why the Arts Bring the Common Core to Life”

  1. jan riggio says:

    Please let me know what on line common core and the arts conference is available Summer 2014. what kind of software is needed support it. I registered for Susan Riley’s Common Core and the Arts winter 2013 and lost the money because I didn’t have the software to support it.

Leave a Reply


ARTSblog holds week-long Blog Salons, a series of posts by guest bloggers, that focus on an overarching theme within a core area of Americans for the Arts' work. Here are links to the most recent Salons:

Arts Education

Teaching Artists

Early Arts Education

Common Core Standards

Quality, Engagement & Partnerships

Emerging Leaders

Charting the Future of the Arts

Taking Communities to the Next Level

New Methods & Models

Public Art

Best Practices


Arts Marketing

Audience Engagement

Winning Audiences

Powered by Community

Animating Democracy

Arts & the Military

Scaling Up Programs & Projects

Social Impact & Evaluation

Humor & Social Change

Private Sector Initatives

Arts & Business Partnerships

Business Models in the Arts

Local Arts Agencies

Cultural Districts

Economic Development

Trends, Collaborations & Audiences

Art in Rural Communities

Alec Baldwin and Nigel Lythgoe talk about the state of the arts in America at Arts Advocacy Day 2012. The acclaimed actor and famed producer discuss arts education and what inspires them.