A Shared Endeavor
It is widely accepted across the country that the arts are a significant part of a quality education. As part of the core, they provide America’s students with essential skills and knowledge needed to be productive college and career ready citizens. In May 2013, I attended a summit with leaders from 12 other arts and education advocacy organizations to define what quality arts education looks like at the local level, encourage partnerships, and call on organizations and individuals to actively support and promote the following points of intersection in our field. We came up with some basic agreements:
- Development of policies and resources for arts education.
- Access to arts education for all students.
- Collaboration between school-based arts educators, other subject area teachers, and community-based artists and arts educators.
- Long-term advocacy partnership between all providers of arts education.
In a time when education reform is at the helm of change and current practices are being revised, we felt that it was important to articulate the purpose and value of arts education in the balanced curriculum of all students. We assert its place as a core academic subject area and detail how sequential arts learning can be supported by rigorous national standards and assessments.
The final outcome of the summit was a document we’re calling A Shared Endeavor: Arts Education for America’s Students. When students are exposed to the combined power of arts educators, community arts organizations and in-school educators, these students gain deeper and increased standards-based arts learning experiences that provide both expanded opportunities and cross-curricular connections among the arts and other subjects. By harnessing the power and expertise of a community’s arts organizations and the sequential standards-based education taught by certified educators, a child’s educational experience can be enhanced exponentially. This convergence of approaches and expertise is represented by the Venn diagram below. This model was used by one of our own members, the Arts Council of Greater Lansing last spring. The Council found this model to be helpful in responding to a very public and unexpected layoff of 53 teachers (including art and music teachers) in their district. Through innovative advocacy efforts, Lansing’s educators, teaching artists and community arts organizations have been collaborating to create a viable solution to ensure a comprehensive, arts-rich education for their students. We at Americans for the Arts hope that A Shared Endeavor can be a new tool to increase community dialogue in the field of arts education in order to provide our students with a quality education that includes the arts.