Salon, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Adieu

Posted by Tim Mikulski On March - 18 - 2011
Tim Mikulski

Tim Mikulski

As my third Arts Education Blog Salon comes to a conclusion, I wanted to first thank you for stopping by and (hopefully) reading all 31 posts over the past week.

The good news is that all of the posts will remain on the site and you can view them all at any time via this link – You can also search our blog by topic or by other tags listed at the bottom of each post. And, if you are ever interested in blogging yourself, just send me an email.

I also want to thank all of the intrepid bloggers from the week: Victoria Plettner-Saunders, Ken Busby, Kristy Callaway, Alyx Kellington, Lynne Kingsley, Rob Schultz, Deb Vaughn, Allen Bell, Kim Dabbs, Rachel Evans, Kathi R. Levin, Joan Weber, Marete Wester, Richard Kessler, Merryl Goldberg, Clayton Lord, and Ben Burdick.

Each of the authors (among them a few staff members of Americans for the Arts, members of our Arts Education Council, Twitter friends, meeting presenters, and members of Americans for the Arts) wrote great pieces that rarely overlapped, but when they did, they complimented each other.

Considering my usual guidance is, “Write on anything related to arts education that you feel needs to be addressed – in under 650 words,” I think they do a wonderful job.   Read the rest of this entry »

Thrill Kill & Other “Fun” Activities

Posted by Kristy Callaway On March - 18 - 2011

Listening to my grandmother tell stories about her youth, I cringed at the gallows humor of her siblings grabbing chickens by the neck and swinging them around their head trying to make a quick break, or their mother harkening out not to chop the head off too close to the clothes line.

Today’s youth are learning how to make their way a wee bit differently, instead of killing and eating their beloved livestock, they have really cool games to play, with titles like the just released Homefront for Xbox 360.

The plot is fabulous, the year is 2007 and the U.S. is pit against North Korea on our own killing fields, American soil.     Read the rest of this entry »

Oh, Canada!: A Tax Credit for Arts Education?!

Posted by Tim Mikulski On March - 18 - 2011
Tim Mikulski

Tim Mikulski

I wasn’t planning on writing another “issue post” today, but I came across an article this morning that just can’t be ignored.

In a report from Canada’s CTV network, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has proposed something that would make Sarah Palin’s head spin around on top of her shoulders.

He wants the federal government to provide a new tax credit for parents whose children participate in artistic activities.

Let me repeat: He wants the federal government to provide a new tax credit for parents whose children participate in artistic activities.

Harper made this declaration (without much detail) while discussing his new economic action plan stating:

“The family is the basic building block of Canadian society. That’s why the Next Phase of Canada’s Economic Action Plan will contain new support for Canadian families and communities, including a tax credit for children’s participation in artistic activities.”

In 2007, a similar tax credit was issued for children involved in organized sports, allowing parents to save up to $75 per child on their taxes.

I wonder what would happen if President Obama presented the same plan on the Hill today…

Allen Bell

Back in 1987, the Getty Center for Education in the Arts (later known as the Getty Education Institute for the Arts), a program of the J. Paul Getty Trust, began a series of Regional Institute Grants.

The funds supported the establishment of visual arts institutes in six states throughout the country – Florida, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas. The program focused on discipline-based arts education (DBAE) and charged the recipient organizations with serving broad geographic regions.

The first seven years of the program was reported on and assessed in the book The Quiet Evolution: Changing the Face of Arts Education by Brent Wilson, then professor and head of art education at Pennsylvania State University.

By 1996, the six institutes had provided professional development to several thousand administrators and teachers who represented 217 school districts serving 1.5 million students in 13 states. They also had developed sophisticated community change and summer institute models that served as benchmarks for the field.

Fast forward to 2011 – while the regional institutes provided groundbreaking arts education programs for their time, some of them have ceased to exist altogether, while several that do still exist no longer continue similar programs. One of the original institutes, however, continues to thrive on providing programs developed around an updated version of the original Getty DBAE design.    Read the rest of this entry »

The Challenge and Opportunity of Parent Engagement

Posted by Richard Kessler On March - 18 - 2011

Richard Kessler

If I were to think of an emblematic phrase, in arts education, it might very well be: parents are key.

Even U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, when asked on a teleconference about what should be done to advance arts education, said: “parents really have to push for this and demand it. And our job as educators is to listen to what parents and students are telling us.”

It is easier said than done.

I will never forget the influential funder who told me told me that parents were a sinkhole, only to tell me a bit later that parents were essential. Whiplash!

Funny thing, both viewpoints are correct.

It’s important to note that we were talking about parents in urban school districts, and were focused on the issue of how parents could make the difference in an individual school and on a system-wide basis.    Read the rest of this entry »

Merryl Goldberg

I was in the principal’s office this morning, but not because I was in trouble.

I am working with a wonderfully committed principal in Vista, CA, Mary Contreras, on developing ways to use the arts as a methodology to reach English language learners on her site.

However, while I was in the office, two boys were ushered in because they were in trouble. I sat and listened to each tell his version of a story which essentially amounted to miscommunication involving bullying and a near physical fight.

As one boy left, the other started crying quietly.

After a moment or two, when gently pushed by Mary to talk about his feelings, the boy said he was sad because he was losing his friend. It was a really poignant and heartbreaking moment, and I truly felt for this kid.    Read the rest of this entry »

21st Century Skills – Not Just for Students Anymore

Posted by Lynne Kingsley On March - 17 - 2011
Lynne Kingsley

Lynne Kingsley

Though it’s a generally accepted concept that infusing 21st Century Skills into education for our nation’s students is vital for creating and maintaining a strong, globally competitive society, we, as a professional arts education field, are having a tough time letting go of 20th century habits.

What follows are three skills that come directly from the Partnership for 21st Century Skills Arts Map. I ask that we, as arts education professionals and managers, consider, “are we practicing what we teach?”


Which one of us has not felt the pangs of anxiety (especially in such harsh budget times) in hearing news of project serving audiences similar to ours being funded or winning awards? Territorialism takes over and the tendency to work in silos to achieve more than our colleagues (or, cruder, competitors) lingers over us like a dark cloud of doom. Read the rest of this entry »

Leave No Child Inside – The Importance of Field Trips

Posted by Alyx Kellington On March - 17 - 2011
Alyx Kellington

Alyx Kellington

Across the nation, field trips are being eliminated from school district’s budgets. Teachers are restricted by the pressures from districts to show curricular results and to cover content in classrooms leaving little time for out-of-school excursions.

The logistics of test schedules, finding a substitute teacher, bus and fuel costs, and balancing curriculum needs with hands-on activities often leaves teachers overwhelmed. Field trips are often viewed as “fluff” or extra-curricular activities and, therefore, are easy line items to cut.

However, teachers and students advocate – and studies indicate – that field trips are a key component of school instruction; they broaden the educational experience and make a subject more relevant.

Students might be good at reciting and remembering things but they often don’t make the connection unless they experience it first hand. Field trips connect the dots for students by providing real experiences related to all content areas.   Read the rest of this entry »

Where is Our “Road Map?”

Posted by Marete Wester On March - 17 - 2011
Marete Wester

Marete Wester

As I write this, the clock is ticking on the deadline for the March 18 end to the Continuing Resolution passed by the Congress that allows the government to keep on working—despite the fact that the 2011 federal budget is still being debated.

New members of Congress are working hard to fulfill campaign promises to cut the budget deficit—even if it means reneging on commitments to education and other areas where promises have been made.

Not surprisingly, the fate of 33 grants totaling $40 million to model arts education programs across the country through the U.S. Department of Education lie in this shadow, the outcome still uncertain.

And yet, despite an almost daily offering of news pieces, blogs, and op-eds placing creativity and innovation at the top of what a multitude of experts from economists to educators to engineers say will help the country out of our economic crisis, we find ourselves once again having to make the case for why the arts—the proverbial “primordial ooze” of creativity—is worthy of government investment.    Read the rest of this entry »

Money is Policy

Posted by Richard Kessler On March - 17 - 2011

Richard Kessler

When the categorical funding line for arts education in the New York City Public Schools was eliminated, essentially to “empower the principals” and to increase the total budget available to each school, a good friend and colleague of mine who works for the local district said: “money is policy.”

Short and sweet – don’t ya think?

And let’s be clear here, we’re not talking about soft money, which tends to be relatively small and short-term.

We’re talking about good old fashioned tax levy money, real-deal school dollars. The kind that is in increasingly short supply

There are many who will take issue with this. The arguments against this statement center on money not necessarily changing anything for the long haul, and in the absence of more thoughtful structures that give context and meaning to the funding, the long-term intentions behind the change brought about by funding tend to be evanescent.    Read the rest of this entry »

Beyond the Choir

Posted by Kim Dabbs On March - 17 - 2011

Kim Dabbs

In my undergraduate training, I was given the opportunity to earn my degree in Studio Art History at Kendall College of Art and Design in Michigan. This program gave me a comprehensive art history background with a foundation in studio art.

As someone that didn’t have the level of visual arts talent as my other art school peers, I struggled through my life drawing courses and endured harsh critiques in my three dimensional design classes.

But, at the end of the semester, I had a clearly noticeable difference in my skills in all of those foundation areas. My bodies looked like more like bodies and my sculptures became more balanced while I was finding my creative voice.

It wasn’t the self-discovery that I credit my studio foundation with but the discovery of the world around me. While I was learning about our culture and the cultures of others through the frame of visual art, I was also learning to see the entire world in a whole new way by participating in the art making process.     Read the rest of this entry »

Encouraging the Student Voice

Posted by Kathi R. Levin On March - 17 - 2011

Kathi R. Levin

Participation in and advocacy for the arts and arts education is a lifetime, persistent agenda that many of us believe is critical to living an educated, reflective, expressive, and complete life.

We are passionate people, often not afraid of sharing what matters to us. After all, the arts are about “making meaning.”

In that effort, sometimes we are so eager to share our beliefs that we fail to maximize the leverage that we might by encouraging learners – both adults and younger students – to articulate why the arts, participating in them as both artists and audience, are at the heart of what they have come to care about as an important part of their complete educational experience.

Thanks to the good work of Americans for the Arts, we actually have a great deal of the data we need about the economic impact of the arts and the 5.7 million jobs that are in place due to the arts.

Can you really make a living as an artist, or even as someone working behind the scenes in the governance and management of the arts and arts organizations?    Read the rest of this entry »

My Experience Testifying for Arts Education

Posted by Joan Weber On March - 16 - 2011
Joan Weber

Joan Weber

As part of my pledge to Testify for Arts Education, I showed up at the Carroll County (MD) Board of Education meeting on March 9.

The room was full, as the board had recently released its preliminary budget. There were many people in the room who were there to protest cuts to school staffs, including nurse’s aids, teaching assistants and paraprofessionals.

They all wore printed labels saying “Together We Can Make a Difference.” They also all wore band-aids because, as they said, “Our hearts are broken.”

I was worried. I hadn’t brought anyone with me. (Note to self: Next time, bring people with me.)

I was sure that all these people would use the “Citizen Participation” time and my message of arts education would be lost. But, the agenda of the board was clearly divided between citizen participation and employee groups.

There were only two names on the Citizen Participation speakers’ list: mine and the chair of a parents’ group. (Note to self: Next time, bring lots of people with me.)

When my name was called, I went to the podium and delivered my prepared remarks. I spoke about an expanded definition of arts education, one in which the school system recognized the importance of arts specialists, teaching artists, and arts institutions.     Read the rest of this entry »

Connecting Arts Education, Creativity, and Innovation

Posted by Kathi R. Levin On March - 16 - 2011

Kathi R. Levin

In today’s struggling economy, there is renewed emphasis on the importance of creativity and innovation. Most of us in the arts automatically think of creativity and innovation as essential to our “brand” and they are.

But, “ownership” of creativity and innovation in today’s evolving worlds of social media communication, a shifting economy, and the global marketplace also feels like “code” for successful entrepreneurism.

In the education sector, where there is a clear federal emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) creativity and innovation relate to these fields, with examples of American ingenuity drawn from NASA, the automotive industry, and other technological developments of the 20th century. We cannot be sure that when people speak about creativity and innovation that they have even considered, let alone are thinking about, the arts.

According to a 2008 report from the Conference Board, there is overwhelming consensus from superintendents (98 percent) and corporate leaders (96 percent) that “creativity is of increasing importance to the U.S. workforce.” Of those corporate respondents looking for creative people, 85 percent said they were having difficulty finding qualified applicants with the creative characteristics they desired.
Read the rest of this entry »

How Do We Make People Care?

Posted by Clayton Lord On March - 16 - 2011

Clayton Lord

There are a lot of posts coming in about advocacy and arts education, and many of them are both hopeful and cautious about what’s happening now in the world.

It’s good to see such optimism, especially given that we face mighty opposition to the very basic value of what we do and make, but it seems to fly against what I see as a burgeoning reality in America.

Starting in the mid 1980s, on the tail of the passage of Prop 13 in California, the public at large started to make a demonstrable shift away from valuing the arts.

The number of eighteen-year-olds claiming to have received any arts education has declined, and precipitously, every year since 1985.

This isn’t new info, and it probably has been rehashed better than I could in many other blogs across the ether, but while we sit here taking pride in our new data on our value, we are up against a mightily fractured world being run by a series of generations who have, by and large, had little or no sustained education in (or using) the arts, and who consequently are acting like people that don’t care about a looming loss simply because that loss has never been personally felt.

It’s a hard place to find ourselves in, a shrinking minority in a country with very little love for something that has been framed (by both them and us) as a luxury, a “want” instead of a “need.”     Read the rest of this entry »