What Would You Ask the President?

Posted by Tim Mikulski On September - 24 - 2010

As part of NBC News’ Education Nation initiative, Today Show host Matt Lauer is interviewing President Obama about the state of education on Monday morning, 9/27, and you have the opportunity to submit questions via the Education Nation website.  ARTSblog has featured a number of arts events that President Obama’s administration has been involved in or hosted at the White House, including hosting the Kennedy Center Honors recipients, welcoming country music artists and music students, and honoring the Coming Up Taller awards recipients.  Now’s our chance to ask the President a question about arts education.

It was suggested that instead of having all arts and arts education supporters asking different questions regarding arts education, we should all ask the same question in order to help make our topic stand out to those selecting them. The question our arts education community came up with is:

“Both your administration and your own family have been very supportive of arts education, yet with the budget cuts that are taking place at the local level and testing focused on reading and math – how do you feel the Obama Administration can better support high-quality arts education in America?”

Feel free to copy and paste this question into the submission form and to ask your own individual questions as well. If any arts education questions are asked and answered, we’ll be sure to let you know.

The Salon is Closed; But Our Work is Never Done

Posted by Tim Mikulski On September - 17 - 2010

Tim Mikulski

On behalf of Americans for the Arts, I would like to thank all of our readers for stopping by to celebrate Arts in Education Week by reading all the posts of our fantastic bloggers throughout the week. Having organized two of these events now, I can say that the content is just getting better and better.

Here is just a sample of all of the topics covered by our intrepid bloggers this time around: national standards; research; technology & pedagogy; collaboration; assessment; innovation; advocacy; school districts/leadership; and reform.

But to put things into the complete perspective, I copied and pasted all of the blog posts into a word cloud website and came up with the words that were used the most in all of the posts (and unlike Wordle, Tagxedo even lets you pick the shape of your cloud).

The results showed that the words most often used in the posts were arts, education, school, programs, learning, students, teachers, and assessment.

To view the entire cloud, visit http://bit.ly/blogcloud.

However, our job isn’t over. Not by a long shot. Read the rest of this entry »

Pondering the Arts Education Lunchbox III: It’s time to party!

Posted by James Palmarini On September - 17 - 2010

Jim Palmerini

Enough pondering. On with our Arts Education Week party. To wit, let’s celebrate:

  • Students first, last, and always as learners, advocates, and our guides to the future.
  • Student learning in the arts that gives ownership and choice and therefore empowerment.
  • Training programs for arts educators that embrace changing modes of learning, new technology, and other tools that teachers and students need to succeed in the twenty-first century.
  • Seminars, workshops, and breakout sessions that always remember to add students to the butcher block paper checklist of stakeholders.
  • Arts space architects and builders that understand the need for facilities to be safe, and simultaneously messy and orderly enough for creativity to thrive.
  • Initiatives like the P21 Arts Framework that suggest the learning of skills beyond the arts discipline while supporting the core content of the domain itself.
  • Thoughtful advocates who recognize there is no single strategy to “make the case” for an arts program before school boards, legislators, administrators, or parents.
  • Collaborating arts educators who work to integrate the arts with other core subject areas in order to deepen their own and students’ understanding of the world we live in. Read the rest of this entry »

Collaboration as the Rule, Not the Exception

Posted by Kim Dabbs On September - 17 - 2010

Kim Dabbs

I joined our organization, Michigan Youth Arts four years ago.  When I stepped through the door, our organization was known best for the Michigan Youth Arts Festival, a comprehensive arts spectacular, culminating a nine-month search for the finest artistic talent in Michigan high schools. More than 250,000 students across the state are involved in the adjudication process that results in nearly 1,000 being invited to participate in the annual three-day event, held in May. It is here that these exceptional students in the arts gather together to explore, celebrate, and showcase their talent in multiple disciplines.  

This organization was built on collaboration. 

The 15 statewide arts education organizations consistently work together to provide this opportunity for students in Michigan for nearly 50 years now. When I would be asked if our organization collaborated, I could confidently answer, “YES!”

But was that enough? Was having collaboration be the rule in our organization enough for us to be highly effective and efficient and serve our constituents throughout the state? Read the rest of this entry »

A Day in the Life of an Arts Advocate

Posted by Victoria Plettner-Saunders On September - 17 - 2010

Victoria Plettner-Saunders

I recently wrote a post for the California Alliance for Arts Education (CAAE) blog about What I Did on My Summer Vacation. My thesis there and here is that arts education advocacy doesn’t take a holiday just because the students do.

On a warm summer afternoon in July, I received an email from CAAE Policy Director Joe Landon about State Assembly Bill 2446 going from the Education Committee to the Senate Appropriations Committee. In a nutshell, if enacted, AB2446 would undermine access to arts education courses by allowing students to substitute Career Technical Education (CTEC) courses for current requirements in visual and performing arts or foreign language.

Up to this point, the CAAE had worked diligently to help policymakers understand that although trying to boost graduation rates by making it easier for students to meet the requirements with CTEC credits makes sense, using it as a replacement for arts education is not the answer. All the letter writing and testimony couldn’t make them change their minds and it was headed Appropriations.

Back to the early afternoon email from Joe. Read the rest of this entry »

Cultivating School District Leadership

Posted by Mark Slavkin On September - 16 - 2010

Mark Slavkin

Arts for All: the Los Angeles County Regional Blueprint for Arts Education is working to strengthen arts education in the 81 school districts in our county. These districts enroll 1.7 million K-12 students - more than many states. The effort is “housed” at the County Arts Commission, with essential leadership from the County Office of Education and other key stakeholders.  None of this would be possible without the remarkable support of our Board of Supervisors.

As part of this effort, I was pleased to work with a retired superintendent, Ira Toibin, to produce a “Leadership Fellows” program for the superintendent, assistant superintendent for instruction, and arts coordinator from five of the participating school districts. We met over the course of a school year as a whole group, in job-alike sessions, and in site visits to each district. This work was made possible in part through a generous grant from the Wallace Foundation.

I want to share some of the lessons learned to help inform future advocacy at the school district level, as opposed to the school site or classroom. Read the rest of this entry »

Advocating for the Fundamental Right of Arts Education

Posted by R. Barry Shauck On September - 16 - 2010

Barry Shauck

Having a rigorous, stable, strong, sequential education in the arts just might be nationally valued as a fundamental right of all students in our democratic society if we move our advocacy efforts from addressing the broad value of programs, to telling stories about the developmental benefits for students who are engaged in learning languages of expression that are grounded in aural notation, movement, re-presentation, and the visual arts.

One of the factors that impacts our public dialogue about the role of the arts in American public schooling is deciding what is to be provided as a given public right and what is to be set aside as a private option. We enjoy the freedom of local jurisdiction, and we suffer the inconsistencies of arts programs delivery across the country, in part, as a result.

One method for linking the arts in America to public purposes for improvement of our democracy might be to ground studio teaching approaches for aesthetic and arts education to the development and life of the student. The visual arts contribute to the public democratic purpose of prosperity (Wyszomirski, 2000) far beyond the perceived contributions of work cast as the contributions of non-profit industries. Everyday, in America’s schools, the best arts teachers practice a child-centered philosophy of self-discovery that educates for a vision of tomorrow and seeks to develop a consciousness of aesthetic form. Theirs is a philosophy that uses self-knowledge as the basis for building human relationships through art. Read the rest of this entry »

Pondering the arts education lunchbox II: Filling it up

Posted by James Palmarini On September - 16 - 2010

Jim Palmarini

In my last post, I detailed my thoughts about the need for arts advocates reconsider the work we do, the challenge of fitting the best arts experiences into an already full school day, the rising predominance of makeshift afterschool programs, and the proverbial elephant in the room—the “art for arts sake” versus the social-workforce strategy for “making the case.” 

On the latter, no matter which side of the hill you’re pushing your boulder up, at the end of the day, what we have not been able to do is shift the thinking of the great majority of citizens in this country from the notion that arts education is “a good thing” to demanding that it be an absolute priority. To me, this is one of our greatest challenges. And I’m willing to use any argument that will work to overcome it. The idea that the strategy for doing so has to be one approach or another is, in itself, a tired argument. 

Our other and equally important challenge is trying to make sure that the greatest number of children really receives the good stuff in their arts lunchbox—quality art experiences that will pique their interest to learn more, and set them on a path, fully engaged and invested in artistic engagement as a fundamental and integral part of their daily lives. In that regard, Mark Baurelein (Advocating for Arts in the Classroom), is absolutely on target: the arts need to be regarded as a discrete academic discipline with vetted, recognized, and assessable content, taught by trained and certified educators. That demands high standards, which is why I’m so encouraged by states like Colorado, New Jersey, Florida and others, where the arts standards have been rewritten to better reflect the rigorous curricula being taught by the state’s educators. Read the rest of this entry »

Taking Credit for Measuring Up

Posted by Heather Noonan On September - 16 - 2010

Heather Noonan

CD-ROMs are hardly considered cutting edge technology today, but back in 1998 they were still something of a novelty.  So it was considered pretty big news when the 1997 National Assessment of Educational Progress in the Arts (NAEP) was released that year by the U.S. Department of Education in hard-bound format, online, and on disc.  This breakthrough was necessitated by the advanced nature of the assessment itself, which went beyond fill-in-the-bubble measurements to include performance-based assessment of student knowledge and skills in the arts.  In addition to thumbing through pages of data analysis for the 1998 arts NAEP, readers could also view sample student work. 

As arts education advocates, we should reach back to this moment in time more than a decade ago and remind ourselves and policy leaders how much the arts have to offer in the current education reform discussions regarding assessment of student learning.  The 1997 NAEP was not just the most comprehensive assessment in the arts (far more robust that the 2008 assessment that followed) – the performance-based measures and reporting set a new standard for national assessments of other core academic subjects to follow. Read the rest of this entry »

Once More, From the Top

Posted by Laura Reeder On September - 16 - 2010

Laura Reeder

I have been reading and re-reading So Much Reform, So Little Change: The Persistence of Failure in Urban Schools by Chicago-based education reformer Charles Payne. In this book, he describes with kindness and clarity the cycle of good intentions that come into schools through professional development, curriculum design, and school improvement measures. Arts education advocates cannot possibly read this book without seeing our own efforts as part of what he describes as the “predictable failures of implementation” (p.153).

The heartfelt desire that we all have to improve education through the arts may shift when we pay closer attention to the struggles of literacy education, science education, technology education, etc. These topic groups have also formed advocacy and grassroots measures and campaigns to change the way we do school. Perhaps we should remember the words of Maxine Greene (2001) who said, “We are interested in education here, not in schooling.”

Are we advocating for school reform with our arts education campaigns or for education change? Read the rest of this entry »

Not Your Average Lit Review, Part 2

Posted by Sarah Collins On September - 16 - 2010

Sarah Collins

In my previous post, I cited the dog-eared pages of my composition notebooks as the source of inspiration for my list of essential readings for 2010.

Each comp book is a creative space to pose tough questions and big dreams for my development as an arts education action agent.

And so I just came across a page from a late night brainstorm in February: ideas for the blog I never got around to writing. The ideas were actually just titles for prospective posts such as “The Art of Multivariate Regression Analysis,” “The Rebel Teacher as an American Folk Hero,” and my personal favorite “Jane Remer is Trying to Break My Heart.” While I don’t quite remember what Jane Remer had done to cause such heartache, the post-that-never-was provides a convenient (if not humorous) transition to my first entry in the second installment of my essential arts education reading list for 2010. 

From Lessons Learned to Local Action: Building Your Own Policies for Effective Arts Education, by Jane Remer. In the January 2010 issue of Arts Education Policy Review, Jane Remer unwraps over 40 years of experience to take a fresh look at the possible futures for arts education policy. While acknowledging the increasing federal and state role in our education system, Remer’s focus is on invention and implementation that are spurred by grassroots leadership. Based on lessons learned about effective arts education programs, we find an intellectual framework and action agenda for developing local policy at the classroom, school, or district level. While the article generated a number of questions for me, my reflections aren’t half as provocative as the questions Remer poses to her audience. Definitely an essential read. Read the rest of this entry »

Rachel Evans

When the pre-service theater teachers I advise do their final semester of student teaching, Kean University’s College of Education requires them to be observed leading one lesson that uses technology.  In the past, I have been known to say something like, “You don’t need to use real technology to fulfill this requirement. I’ll accept the stuff of theater as our technology.  That’s more important.”  I found myself encouraging the use of technical theater tools and theater design materials as acceptable substitutes for what the requirement was intended to encourage.

My philosophy, however, has forever shifted.  After participating in a self-designed summer of technology-based professional development, I’ve come to see how very wrong I was for justifying my own bias and shortcomings.  I see that this requirement is not only one of the most relevant student teaching mandates, but that blending technology and pedagogy should be guiding instructional design for more than one out of 75 days in the pre-service teacher’s classroom.

In my mind, the fact that my students were teaching theater was a legitimate “out”—that somehow the arts were exempt, immune to the craze of incorporating technology into lesson plans.  I realize how short sighted my justification was. Read the rest of this entry »

The Power of the Music (from Arts Watch)

Posted by Tim Mikulski On September - 15 - 2010

Tim Mikulski

As I began writing this blog post, which is serving as both the regular weekly “Arts Canvas” piece for Arts Watch and as one of 29 blog entries that will make up our Arts in Education Week Blog Salon on ARTSBlog, I have my office door closed and my portable iPod speaker is quietly playing the music of an independent singer/songwriter who happens to be from my hometown in Southern New Jersey. It’s one of those days when I need help focusing and Matt Duke’s music is helping.

And that got me thinking about the influence that music has had on my life over the past 30 years. It just so happens that I just moved out of my twenties over the past weekend and I’m in a reflective mood.

If you don’t mind the indulgence, I’d like to leave the serious arts education policy discussions up to the very capable (and excellent) other arts education bloggers for the week and explore those thoughts.

Now… back to my original point.

All I have to do is hear the first few notes or words of a song on my iPod, on the radio, or even as part of the soundtrack of a movie, and I can be instantly transported back to a certain day or short period of time in my life. I’m sure it is the same for most of you. Read the rest of this entry »

Looking through the Glimmerglass – An Oasis for Young Artist Education

Posted by Zack Hayhurst On September - 15 - 2010

Zack Hayhurst

I recently returned from an extended stay in Cooperstown, New York. No, I wasn’t there for the Baseball Hall of Fame, or the charming Amish handicrafts. Rather, I was there from mid-May through the end of August on an arts administration internship with the Glimmerglass Festival. Specifically, I worked with the Young American Artists Program (YAAP), and its phenomenal director, Michael Heaston.

When one thinks of upstate New York, first class opera typically isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Rolling hills, yes. Charming valleys and cool springs, sure. To some, it is the ideal reprieve from city life and a chance to reconnect with Mother Nature. For burgeoning young opera singers, interestingly enough, it is also an ideal opportunity for them to get away to a place where they can focus and refine their craft, and take their careers to the “next level. Glimmerglass Festival provides this environment.

I learned of the creation of National Arts in Education Week in the midst of working on the details of a master class to be facilitated by composers John Corigliano and Mark Adamo.  It immediately occurred to me that arts education typically has a certain connotation – that of art taught in K-12 classrooms and/or through the educational outreach programs of arts organizations. Seldom do we think of arts education in terms of furthering an artists’ artistic and professional growth. Glimmerglass Opera’s young artist program does exactly that. Read the rest of this entry »

Assessing a Teacher’s Value?

Posted by R. Barry Shauck On September - 15 - 2010

Barry Shauck

On September 6, 2010, The New York Times published an article by the same name as this posting.  It discussed the ‘value-added’ approach to assessing teacher performance that is gaining a foothold in American education. This approach is based upon what students have learned in a certain period measured by what they were expected to learn in light of the speed of their past progress. Teacher evaluation at its best does more than ascribe to following a plan whether that plan is yearly, unit, or lesson. Teacher evaluation at its best recognizes and rewards surprises, deviations from plans in teaching and learning; rather than regarding surprise as a performance advantage. Such measurement and regard reduces students to commodities calculated in economic metrics on a quarterly basis.

Quality in education depends on what teachers can personalize – not on standardized performance. Leadership itself depends upon establishing fundamental relationships so that the best that teachers have to teach can be handed along to their students. If connoisseurship is used to draw a larger picture of a teacher’s qualities, the stories that a teacher has to tell to students, and the value that is added to the experience students take away from learning can be described in an artful and lasting way. There are no metrics or modular responses that are appropriate when connoisseurship is used to appraise teacher quality. Descriptive substitutes, plug-ins, or narratives describing the particular qualities of teaching cannot be interchanged from one modular phrase to another. The narrative of connoisseurship depends upon one’s abilities to discern particulars to school environments, situations, students, and teachers. Read the rest of this entry »

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

Early Arts Education

Common Core Standards

Quality, Engagement & Partnerships

Emerging Leaders

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.