Your District Superintendent: A Key Ally for Arts Education

"Your district superintendent is the person who knows and understands what's happening on a day to day basis in each school in the district. He or she is responsible for implementing programs.[…] [and] oftentimes their voice is the one the SB hears the loudest or that carries the most weight.”

In this month’s blog from our Local Advocacy Network, advocates from the San Luis Obispo Alliance for Arts Education explain how and why they worked with the district superintendent in Paso Robles in this brief video blog

 

Why a District Arts Plan Still Matters

The Challenge: How to build a district wide arts program starting now.

The Strategy: A district arts plan builds broad support and maps a path for incremental, but sustained growth.

The Story: California’s state education code requires that students receive K-12 instruction in visual arts, music, theater and dance. Yet, during years of tough financial times, many schools were forced to cut their arts programs. During the lean years, advocates in Orange County (OC) undertook a systematic effort to pass district arts plans that means as new funding comes in, both a commitment and a plan are in already place.

How SF Arts Advocates Leveraged Support for Ballot Measure

How SF Arts Advocates Leveraged Support for Ballot Measure

Challenge: Persuade city officials to introduce and support a ballot initiative to fund arts education, libraries and sports.  

Strategy: The San Francisco Alliance for Arts Education authored a white paper that decision-makers clear, sound arguments for amending a funding policy and putting it on the November 2014 ballot.

LCAP Success Story in Santa Cruz

The Challenge: How to increase access to arts education in a large district with limited opportunities for arts.

The Strategy: Bring solutions to your local school board.

The Story: The Santa Cruz County Alliance for Arts Education, launched in 2012, has an ambitious goal - to advocate for arts education for all students in every school community in Santa Cruz County. They began their work by focusing on the county’s largest district, which had very limited arts education offerings.  The Santa Cruz Alliance knew that their best chance to make an impact within the district was to advocate for the inclusion of arts in that district’s new Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAP).


“We did so by building relationships with school board members, coordinating presenting materials at school board meetings and town hall planning sessions, defining a clear and appropriate ask, and following up and celebrating the progress made,” says Sarah Brothers, the Arts Education Manager for the Arts Council Santa Cruz County and leader for the Santa Cruz County Alliance for Arts Education (SCCAAE).

The How and Why of Countywide Assessment in Napa

The Challenge: How do you set goals for a countywide advocacy effort with multiple partners and stakeholders?

The Strategy: Start with a countywide assessment to determine what arts education assets the county has and what is needs.

The Story: In December 2013 Arts Council Napa Valley, along with the Napa County Office of Education and the California Alliance for Arts Education, convened with more than 50 Napa County educators, arts organizations, nonprofits, and community leaders at an early morning breakfast to garner support for arts education in Napa County schools, launching the Napa County Alliance for Arts Education (NCAAE).  There was clear support within the group to work together to increase access to arts education in the county. The question was how. In a county with five school districts and 51 schools with a variety of needs, stakeholders and delivery systems, there was not a simple or obvious goal for their shared work.

Santa Barbara Advocates Respond to District LCAP

 

As part of the new Local Control Funding Formula, every school district in California is required to release a draft Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) and invite public feedback before plans are finalized on June 30.
Members of the newly formed Santa Barbara Alliance for Arts Education (SBAEA) wrote a joint feedback letter in response to SBUSD’s draft LCAP plan. Then members of the group attended the SBUSD school board meeting and read their letter to the board. We’ve posted their letter on our website – it offers a great example of how to provide constructive, specific feedback on a draft LCAP. Check your district website for draft plans and dates of upcoming meetings. Connect with your parent advisory committee members, district representatives and board members to share comments on the draft LCAP.
Download SBAEA's feedback letter here.  Visit our toolkit for more information and sample letters. 

Award for Local Advocacy Work in Orange County

Each year, the Orange County Music and Arts Administrators (OCMAA) present awards to honor the accomplishments of teachers who make a difference in the lives of students through arts education. In May over two hundred people filled the Samueli Theatre at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts to celebrate the exemplary work being done by teachers in schools throughout the county.

Securing local business partners for arts education advocacy

The Challenge: How can I get local businesses to support arts education advocacy efforts?

The Strategy: 1. Ask  2. Ask smart.

The Story: Business support for the arts is a long standing tradition, but asking a local business to get involved in your arts advocacy effort may seem like a more difficult sell.

Yet for Nick Rail Music, spreading the word about the opportunity presented by the new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) just made good business sense. With six music stores in Southern California, specializing in selling, renting and repairing band and orchestral instruments mainly to schools, they understood the impact LCFF could have on music programs in local schools and, in turn on their business. At the same time, they were finding that many of their customers were simply not aware of what was at stake. 

Help District Leaders Understand How the Arts Can Contribute to LCFF Goals

The Challenge: How can I ensure that my district leaders understand the valuable role arts education can play in reaching Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) and Common Core goals?

The Strategy: Present evidence to your local school board that connects the stated goals of LCFF and Common Core with the benefits of arts education.

The Story: On January 14, five members of the Santa Cruz Alliance for Arts Education (SCAAE) spoke at a local school board meeting.

Each spoke about the different benefits of arts education and the group as a whole represented a variety of backgrounds – parent, teacher, university professor and district arts coordinator – but all of them grounded their presentations in specific aspects of the Local Control Funding Formula and/or Common Core.

The What and Why of Starting a Local Arts Education Advocacy Coalition

On December 3, Arts Council Napa Valley along with the Napa County Office of Education and the California Alliance for Arts Education hosted an early morning breakfast to garner support for arts education in Napa County schools. In response to the statewide changes in education focus, the California Alliance launched the Local Advocacy Network project, which supports local advocacy efforts in more than 30 California communities. 
 
Napa County Superintendent of Schools Barbara Nemko, along with the Principal Advisor to the State Superintendent of Schools Craig Cheslog, Napa Valley Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Patrick Sweeney and Executive Director of the California Alliance for Arts Education Joe Landon, began the conversation with more than 50 Napa County educators, arts organizations, nonprofits and community leaders in attendance. The event was held on the historic Napa Valley Unified School District Auditorium stage.
 
The Arts Advocates of Napa County agree that it is essential every child have the opportunity for an arts-rounded education. In working to make this possible, groups were formed to determine methods and needs to improve art education in Napa County. However, there are many challenges faced with art education in the schools, such as, state funding cuts, locally managed budgets, need of a central organizer for arts education curriculum and assets, absence of training for teaching the arts, and lack of opportunity available for arts as a new Common Core standard.

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