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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. 

Low-income students are entitled to arts funding

Right now, California is one of a handful of states that has resisted using federal Title 1 funds for arts education.

Despite evidence that arts education contributes to lower drop out rates and higher academic achievement, which are the stated goals of the Title 1 program, California education leadership has failed to support Title 1 funding for arts education and at-risk students in our state are going without.

Read California Alliance for Arts Education Executive Director Joe Landon’s letter to the editor to learn more.

It's All About Creativity

According to John Eger's newest blog in the Huffington Post, "Clearly something big is happening across America" and that something is creativity. Next week, arts education stakeholders from all over California will gather in Coronado to talk about "how the arts and creative education can transform California classrooms."  Next month, the California Legislative Joint Committee on the Arts will hold hearings on SB 789, legislation that will require the Governor to develop a "creativity index," which in turn would be used to measure creativity in public schools statewide. SB 789 was authored by Senator Curren Price of the 26th Senatorial District and sponsored by the California Alliance.

Local Advocacy in Stanislaus: How to Engage Parents

The Challenge: How do you connect with parents across a large, rural county with twenty-three separate school districts?

The Strategy: Invite parents to an event featuring resources for advocacy and a free night of theater.

The Story: When the Stanislaus Alliance for Arts Education launched last fall, it was clear that parents were key to preserving or expanding arts education in Stanislaus schools.

“We saw right away that the districts that had arts programs were the ones where parents were involved -- through booster clubs, PTAs or education foundations,” says Patty Larrick, the local organizer for the Stanislaus Alliance. “Our challenge was to bring all these different groups together, in order to share best practices and coordinate efforts.” 

Stanislaus Alliance Urges Parents to Join Advocacy Efforts

The new Stanislaus Alliance for Arts Education encouraged parents to get more involved in promoting arts at their schools at an event this month. 

"When programs are in danger, it's the parents and only the parents that save them," Patty Larrick, the alliance coordinator, told people at a parents forum at the Gallo Center for the Arts.

Working in partnership with the Gallo Center, the Stanislaus Alliance organized and event at which parents could find out how to get more involved in local advoacy efforts, as enjoy master storyteller, in performance at the Center. 

The event attracted over forty community members and was covered in the Modesto Bee. Read the story.

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