Observing Where We Are, How We Got Here, & What is Next

Posted by Jennifer Bransom On March - 15 - 2012

Jennifer Bransom

Bringing people together to partner on a hot-button issue such as quality is tricky. And that, my friends, is an understatement, wouldn’t you agree?

When navigating these waters it’s important to chart where you’ve been and how you arrived where you are.

Over the past two years Big Thought, with the support of The Wallace Foundation, has digitally documented our community’s quality teaching and learning work at Creating Quality. We hope this site will serve as a place for community dialogue and sharing, both locally and nationally.

All of the material in the Tools and Resource Library (e.g., letters, reports, templates) that were created in Dallas can be downloaded and edited per your needs. This is because we don’t imagine that quality looks the same in any two places.

Ownership of quality is essential. And, ownership only comes when you, as a fully engaged partner, have defined quality in terms that you are prepared to support. Then, and only then, can you assess and make investments to advance quality.

This is how the Dallas arts community embraced and folded-in district and community educators from the other four disciplines: English/language arts, math, science, and social studies. Read the rest of this entry »

The Parallels of Quality Dining and Quality Arts Education

Posted by Jennifer Bransom On March - 12 - 2012

Jennifer Bransom

First, let me confess that I’m trapped on a plane and hungry. I’m dreaming of a great dinner and hoping I can get a recommendation when my plane touches down.

What does this have to do with quality arts education? Well, I’m hoping for a quality dining experience and here is how I imagine I’ll find it.

I’ll ask someone for a recommendation, and she’ll say, “Oh you should try (insert name of restaurant).” This begins a conversation that will teach me why this particular restaurant is being recommended. Is it because of the food, maybe even a particular menu item, or did my friend/cabbie also factor in service, ambiance, speed, cost, etc.?

A quality dining experience means different things to different people. Why should it be any different when we discuss quality arts education?

As I mentioned, and you’ve no doubt experienced, the question, “Can you recommend a restaurant?” is the beginning of a conversation. By listening and asking questions about what is being recommended and why it is better than some other restaurant, I get to know the person offering the suggestion and what she values.

Often (though not always) I feel that we, as arts educators, shy away from similar conversations about quality within our field. If you came to Dallas and asked me to recommend a restaurant, I’d definitely share some of my favorite places. And, it wouldn’t scar me for life if you disagreed with or didn’t visit any of my offerings. I know not everyone has the same tastes. Read the rest of this entry »

White House Gathers Arts ‘Champions of Change’

Posted by Robert Lynch On July - 21 - 2011

Robert L. Lynch

On July 19, I attended a productive meeting at the White House Executive Office Building. The event, coordinated by the President’ Committee on the Arts and Humanities and the White House Office of Public Engagement, was called Champions for Change: Winning the Future Across America.

Some dozen Champions were on hand to react and provide good local examples of how arts interventions made positive change and could contribute to making the case for advancing arts education in America.

Amy Rasmussen, executive director of Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education observed that there was a faster rate of acceleration and improvement in all areas for children when they had the arts as a key part of their learning experience.

Ramon Gonzalez, the founding principal of Middle School 223-The Laboratory School of Finance and Technology in the South Bronx, discussed how the arts engaged students in his school.

His school recognizes and engages all the students as artists and makes the arts a core part of their everyday school life even though the focus of the school is on finance and technology. The result was a 93 percent increase in attendance and a greatly improved learning environment. In this school, which was started in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in New York City when it was created, there has been not even a single fight in the last two years. Read the rest of this entry »