If you care about arts education, you must be in the advocacy business.
Until such time as the arts are fully embedded in every American school system, we have to be energetic in making the case. We cannot leave this work to a handful of “advocacy organizations.”
In recent years I have been pleased to see our field become more sophisticated in this regard. More arts education supporters understand we need both “top-down” and “bottom-up” support. Through federal, state, and school district policy and funding commitments we can influence change at a large-scale or systemic basis.
At the same time, we realize the need to provide hands-on support and resources and the classroom and school site level. As we toggle back and forth between broad policy support and technical assistance in schools, we need to be careful that we frame the right arguments for the right settings.
In thinking about our advocacy strategies, it struck me that our underlying goal is to create an imperative for policymakers and educators to expand their commitment to arts education. How can we create forces that are so compelling that change will happen on a consistent basis, and not be left to individual personal preferences? I see three primary imperatives: the “values” imperative, the “political” imperative, and the “instructional” imperative. I am concerned we have put too many eggs in the first two baskets, and too few in the third. Read the rest of this entry »