Opening the Door for Arts Education & Title 1

Last week California’s Title 1 Conference was held in San Diego, bringing together Title 1 administrators and school and parent representatives from around the state.
One of the breakout sessions listed was “Title 1, Student Achievement and the Arts.” The session was both the culmination of year’s work and the first step on a journey that will encourage schools throughout California to choose arts education strategies as a means of accomplishing Title 1 goals. 
To back up a little…The California Alliance for Arts Education and Arts for LA have been working, along with the solid support of letter-writing advocates from around the state,  to engage the California Department of Education in a discussion about how to provide guidance to Title 1 schools interested in pursuing arts education strategies. These efforts led to a letter to the field from the Department in February, and was followed by an invitation to the Alliance to present a panel at the statewide conference, explaining the process involved in selecting arts education strategies. 

The prevailing attitude with regard to using arts education strategies to support Title 1 goals had been, either that arts education wasn’t permissible under the guidelines of Title 1 goals, or that if you intended to pursues arts education strategies, it was best to keep it below the radar, to avoid the scrutiny and possible revoking of funds by state or federal administrators.  To say the least, it wasn’t a climate conducive to arts education strategies. 

What our conversations, both at the state and federal levels clarified, was that arts education strategies are permissible within Title 1 funding, and that there are specific requirements, defined by CDE, that needs to be followed in order to honor the intent of that funding.  The goal of the panel was to lay out both the required process and the reasons why arts education strategies offer a unique opportunity to address the needs of Title 1 students. 
Panelists included: 
Christine Swenson, CDE Director of District and School Improvement Division 
Lynn Tuttle, Director of Arts Education, Arizona Department of Education 
Herman Mendez, Assistant Superintendent, Santa Ana Unified School District 
Steve Venz, Principal, Quincy Jones Elementary School, LAUSD 
Lauren Stevenson, Arts and Education Consultant, Arts Education Partnership
 Click here to download the packet of resources provided by panelists. Later in the day, a follow up panel, “Building Student Achievement Through the Arts”, moderated by Jack Mitchell of CDE, provided examples of effective school based arts education strategies at both the elementary and secondary level. 
Our hope is that this discussion will open the door a little wider, for schools interested in expanding the impact of Title 1 funds, by using arts education strategies to increase student academic achievement, parental involvement, and student engagement. 
Joe Landon
Executive Director