Archive for May 17th, 2011


Reinvesting in Arts Education

May 17, 2011

Report just out

The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) have just released the report Reinvesting in Arts Education. In my quick scan I find similar findings to Maine’s statewide arts education census work Opportunities to Learn in the Arts in Maine released in 2009.

The President’s Committee was formed under President Reagan in 1982. The PCAH works directly with the Administration and the three primary cultural agencies – National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institute of Museum and Library Services – as well as other federal partners and the private sector.

The  I am familiar with a report they published in 1999 called Gaining the Arts Advantage. In that report three Maine school districts were sited: Westbrook, MSAD #40, and Camden-Rockport for their exemplary arts education programming. I was fortunate to be teaching in MSAD #40 at the time. Through the support and commitment of school board, district- and building-level administrators, and the community the arts programs flourished. The staff had high expectations and through ongoing collaboration created a comprehensive K-12 arts curriculum complete with benchmarks and district wide assessments at grades 3,6,8, and 12. Art at the middle level was a “core” subject which resulted in visual arts classes for students the same number of times per week as other subjects. Today I think back about how amazing that was and yet I know that work did not happen overnight. It was through careful planning and continuous communication.

I suggest you not only read this new research but use it to communicate about your programs. We have research from the past that shows the links between high-quality arts education and a wide range of education outcomes. Arts integration models are yielding positive results in school reform and closing the achievement gap. The research on neuroscience helps us understand how arts strategies support crucial brain development in learning. I suggest you not only read this new research but use it to communicate about your programs.

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