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Making the Case for Title 1 Funds for Arts Education

For the past year the Alliance has been working behind the scenes to increase access to the benefits of arts education for students in Title 1 schools. Though Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has stated that Title 1 funds may be used to support arts education strategies that target the program’s goals, as well as clear evidence that arts programs are linked to higher test scores and academic achievement, there has been hesitation among schools and districts to pursue arts education strategies within Title 1 programs. 
 
When we were brought into this conversation by Arts for LA, we were hearing reports that an entire school district had decided not to use Title 1 funds for those purposes. 
We began by seeking guidance from California's State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson. His office responded by saying "Title 1 funding might be appropriately used to support arts education as a strategy to improve student achievement in English-language arts and/or mathematics", provided that certain requirements are fulfilled. 

UPDATE on SB 789 (Price)

Last Thursday, August 16, the fate of SB 789 (Price) was decided when the Assembly Appropriations Committee voted to 'hold' the bill. That means that it will not be eligible for further hearings this year and so has effectively run its course. As the original sponsors of the bill the Alliance was disappointed by the decision. We believe the bill offered an important opportunity for schools to demonstrate their commitment to creativity and innovation across the curriculum, by creating an index that would measure access to those learning opportunities.

But while this piece of legislation won’t become law, it has succeeded in raising awareness about the importance of creativity and innovation in our schools. The bill was a catalyst for numerous news stories over the past year, hundreds of letters of support to state legislators and Joint Committee on the Arts hearing in Sacramento that drew a standing room only crowd as well as a robust audience streaming live. In addition, the bill’s language was integrated into larger accountability legislation (SB 547 Steinberg), marking the first time that creativity and innovation were being considered as measurable components of a complete educational experience.

The Alliance thanks Senator Curren Price and his staff for their commitment to the legislation and to our lobbyist, Kathy Lynch, who worked tirelessly on behalf of the bill. We also want to acknowledge the 'creator' of the bill, Dan Hunter of Massachusetts, where similar legislation was passed, who worked with us to develop the legislation and lobbied for its passage. Lastly, we thank arts education advocates in California for communicating their support to legislators and recognizing that creativity is not frill but a necessary agent for reviving the state economy and our public schools.

“Don’t water down your arts plan just because the economy is bad.”

The Challenge: Five years into your district arts plan there’s still no money. How do you maintain momentum when budget woes continue? 
 
The Strategy: “Don’t water down your arts plan just because the economy is bad.”
 
The Story: When stakeholders in Saddleback sat down to renew their district’s arts plan (they expire every five years), there were still items from the original plan that hadn’t been accomplished. There were facilities that hadn’t been built and equipment that was still needed. There were also a lot of new faces around the table. Would this new group be able to keep momentum and agree on a plan? 
 
According to Jim Thomas, Visual and Performing Arts Coordinator for the Orange County Department of education, these potential obstacles turned out to have unexpected benefits. 

Vote Yes on 30 and 38

 

On June 8th, the Policy Council of the California Alliance for Arts Education voted to recommend the Alliance endorse both funding initiatives on this November’s ballot. The next day the Alliance’s board ratified this recommendation.
 
“Our children Our Future: Local Schools and Early Education Investment” is sponsored by Molly Munger and supported by the State PTA. The initiative would “stop the bleeding” and put California back on a path to rebuilding funding for education. Though we have a long way to go to get back to where we belong in per pupil funding, this measure is a vital step in the right direction, and the most powerful step we can take to sustain and eventually increase arts learning opportunities for our students.
 
The “School and Local Public Safety Protection Act” is sponsored by Governor Jerry Brown. The initiative is essential to the survival of public schools in California. Should it not be approved, it is likely that every school arts program will be in jeopardy due to drastic cuts in school funding. There is nothing we can do that is more important for our students than to pass this critical measure.

Local Advocacy: What Works

In a recent interview with for California Schools, a monthly magazine of the California School Boards Association, Joe Landon reflects on what's working in the Alliance's Local Advocacy Network. Launched in 2008, the program empowers local communities to keep arts programs in schools.

The Alliance provides local groups the leadership development, strategic assistance and online resources and communication tools they need to make effective school board presentations, earn media coverage of their issue and, this year, complete an arts education survey of candidates running for school board in forty California districts.

Four years into the program, Landon cites strong partnerships with what are often sympathetic local school boards as key to the local coalitions' success. "They approach school board members as partners. They have a clear, consistent message, and they bring solutions rather than complaints."

Landon also explains what's keeping local districts from using Title 1 funding for arts education and what the Alliance is doing to help. 

Read the article.

Dan Hunter's Creativity Index in California

Democracy is slow—it is a world of the tortoise, not the hare.  The language to describe legislative steps—“sent to Committee,” “the committee took action,” or “adopted and engrossed”—seem to imply efficiency, celerity, and progress. However, in Massachusetts, a legislative clerk must still physically carry the printed legislation down the hall and lay it on the Governor’s desk.  Legislation is a cumbersome process often dismissed with the adage: “Two things you should never watch being made: sausage and the law.”

 
The Index of Creativity and Innovation legislation (SB 789) has passed the California Senate thanks to the leadership of Senator Curren Price (D-Los Angeles) and the sponsorship of the California Alliance for Arts Education.  The Senate sent the bill to the Assembly, where it is scheduled to be heard in the Assembly Committee on Education, on June 13..  With the approval of the Assembly and the signature of the Governor, California would become one of the first states to adopt a creative index as a tool to promote creativity in our schools.

Airplanes, Algae and Arts Education

In their work to uncover new, sustainable biofuels, The Boeing Company relies on the creativity of its workforce. Innovators at Boeing have identified algae as a possible biofuel that could lower carbon emissions for airplanes. That’s one reason why Sarah Murr, a Global Corporate Citizenship Community Investor for Boeing and a Board Member of the California Alliance, travelled to Sacramento to speak to lawmakers about the importance of a creative workforce - not only for companies like Boeing, but for the future of our state in the global economy.

“The challenge is that we have a skills shortage not a labor shortage -- especially with unemployment rates where they are,” says Murr, “We have a shortage of people with the skills for the jobs that are needed in an increasingly dynamic and competitive marketplace.” Murr delivered her message at a hearing before the Joint Committee on the Arts organized by Senator Curren Price and in sit down meetings with key legislators and members of the Governor’s staff arranged by the California Alliance.

According to Murr, “Providing comprehensive arts education programs as early as pre-school will help future generations of creative thinkers and problem solvers who will invent the next life-changing products or services – be it algae for biofuel, new lightweight materials for airplanes or something we can’t yet imagine.”

This week we learned that, after thirty-five years with the Boeing Company, Sarah Murr will be retiring in July. Those who have worked with her on arts education issues will greet this news with a mixture of gratitude, for all she has contributed, and apprehension, for all we are losing. At a time when corporate relationships to the needs of the broader community are evolving, Sarah Murr, with the support of the Boeing Corporation, has blazed a trail of unprecedented involvement and commitment to the well being and education of California's children. I invite you to learn more about the potential of corporate citizenship and the meaning of leadership in the words of Sarah's testimony.

 

Joint Committee on the Arts Hearing Streamed Live

On April 18, Senator Curren Price, chairman of the Joint Committee on the Arts, convened a hearing titled The Arts, Creativity, and Innovation in the 21st Century Classroom: How to Paint a Canvas for Success.

Experts from the field presented information on the value of creativity and the arts and explored the ways we can provide opportunities for innovation and creativity to flourish in California classrooms. 

Sarah Murr, Community Investor for The Boeing Company and California Alliance Board Member, offered testimony about preparing students with the creativity skills they need to succeed in the 21st century economy.  Read her testimony

Arts education helps at-risk students succeed

 

A new study released by the National Endowment for the Arts, The Arts and Achievment in At-Risk Youth: Findings from Four Longituinal Studies, examines the academic and civic behavior outcomes of teenagers and young adults who
 have engaged deeply with the arts in or out of school.

According to the research, "teenagers and young adults of low socioeconomic status (SES) who have a history of in-depth arts involvement show better academic outcomes than do low-SES youth who have less arts involvement. They earn better grades and demonstrate higher rates of college enrollment and attainment."  

Report on Assessment Tools for Arts Education.

The National Endowment for the Arts has released a new research report, Improving the Assessment of Student Learning in the Arts: State of the Field and Recommendations. As the field of educational assessment advances, and as alternatives to standardized tests emerge, the tools used to evaluate student learning, such as portfolio reviews, are beginning to gain acceptance. Given this development, it is even more important to examine arts educational standards and assessment tools to ensure that arts learning can become a vital force for enhancing 21st century skills. Read the report. 

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