Find Out the Status of Arts Education in Your Local School District

The Challenge: The Local Control Funding Formula offers a rare opportunity for districts to allocate funding for the arts, but how do you find out what your district needs most?

The Strategy: An online survey of schools in your district can provide information about the status of arts education in local schools and the areas of greatest need. 

The Story: Last month, parents, educators, elected officials, and leaders from local business and cultural institutions gathered to launch an arts education advocacy effort in San Luis Obispo County. There was a great turnout and small group discussions yielded a long list of possible goals. County Superintendant of Schools Julian Crocker told those gathered that the new Local Control Funding Formula presented them with a “historic opportunity” to advance arts education in their community. Only one question remained, where should we start?

“We wanted to be able to seize the momentum in the room,” says Jenna Hartzell, Executive Director of ARTS Obisbo, a participant, who spearheaded the event. A few months earlier, ArtsObispo had joined the California Alliance for Arts Education’s Local Advocacy Network, which provides training and best practices to arts education advocates in thirty communities around the state. “To get started, we needed to find out where arts education stands in our county schools as of this moment.” 
To accomplish this, ARTS Obsipo designed an online survey and, working in partnership with the County Office of Education, succeeded in getting local schools to participate. The questionnaire not only inquired about arts content in classrooms, but also asked who was teaching those lessons (classroom teachers? credentialed art, music, dance, theater teachers? art specialists? ) as well as, the length of that instruction.
The results, shared at the launch event for San Luis Obispo County Alliance for Arts Education, provided community members with a snapshot of where they were succeeding and where they needed to advocate for additional resources. 
“With a county-wide effort like this, we can build on what we’re doing well – look for opportunities to share resources and collaborate – and address the areas of greatest need,” says Hartzell. 
The group’s initative’s first leadership meeting will be held in February, when plans will be put into action. 
Use our Insiders Guide for passing a district arts plan. 
Pictured above are SLO County event hosts: Julian D. Crocke, County Superintendent of Schools; Caren Ray, SLO County Supervisor; Jenna Hartzell, Executive Director ARTS Obsipo; Cricket Handler, Artistic Director of Canzona Women's Ensemble