Arts Education Poised to Make Quantum Leap in Maryland Public Schools

Posted by Mary Ann Mears, Dec 17, 2014 0 comments

As a life-long advocate for the arts in Maryland, I am thrilled, as are my colleagues and friends of education and the arts, with the break-through opportunity for arts education we now have in our state. On September 16, 2014 our Governor’s Leadership Council, which is a Prek-20 group of state leaders in education and business, unanimously approved a task force report on arts education. I co-chaired the task force and had the privilege of working with an exceptional group of educators, artists, and people from the business sector.

Our deliberations were based on extensive public input and research. Years of excellent work in the field of arts education in our state by partners from MSDE, the State Arts Council, local school systems, artists, arts organizations and institutions of higher education contributed greatly to the work of the Task Force and the resulting recommendations, strategies and rationales.

The Arts Education in Maryland Schools (AEMS) Alliance staffed the Task Force. That Mary Cary, the AEMS Executive Director, had deep experience with prior P20 Leadership Council Task Forces was critical to the success of our efforts. In Maryland these Task Forces have been the major impetus for education reform in areas from STEM to literacy.

The Task Force recommendations cover amending state regulation to include much more specific language about requiring arts instruction in dance, music, theatre and visual arts and tracking annual data to be collected on the status of programs. Other recommendations address funding adequacy, revision of state arts standards, pre-service and in-service learning in the arts and arts integration for arts teachers and classroom teachers, and strategies for ensuring time in the day for arts programs for all students.

What is really wonderful is the positive response we are getting as we have unrolled the recommendations in gatherings around the state from the Eastern Shore to the D.C. suburbs, our Western counties, and the Baltimore metropolitan area.

As just one example, the arts community in Baltimore City has been expanding exponentially and is highly committed to the city and the city schools. A newly formed Baltimore Coalition for Arts Education is working closely with a new CEO who wants Baltimore City Schools to be a model in implementing our Task Force Report on Arts Education in Maryland Schools. Other Maryland school systems are also embracing the Task Force recommendations.

The most frequent question I hear is, “where can we get the arts teachers?” My response is that with this powerful plan to reach every child with high quality arts instruction, we will have arts teachers from all over the country who will want to come here to be part of supportive, innovative arts education programs and live and work in our increasingly vibrant arts communities across the state.

We are very proud of this report and the strength of the recommendations. We now turn to the challenges of implementation. AEMS will continue to work with our partners to ensure that we realize the full potential we have.

We look forward to sharing our progress with friends and colleagues in other states.

To read the Task Force report, please go to the AEMS website:

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