District Administration - June 2012 - (Page 20)
Putting the Arts to the Test
By Marion herbert
The PresidenT’s CommiTTee on The ArTs and humanities (PCAh) has a theory: that placing robust arts education programs in low-performing schools will narrow the achievement gap and increase student engagement. To test this theory, the committee, in partnership with the U.s. department of education, the White house Policy Council, and numerous private organizations, has developed the Turnaround Arts initiative, a pilot project in eight schools deemed low-performing around the country. The overarching goal of the program, which will begin this fall and, is funded for three years, is to create a template so that other schools can create a strong arts curriculum. it was formed on the heels of PCAh’s report, reinvesting in Arts education: Winning America’s Future Through Creative schools, which was released in may 2011. each of these schools—all of which are elementary or middle schools—is a recipient of a school improvement Grant and has already identified the arts as a means by which it hopes to improve. in addition to siG funding, the committee has received various donations from private and nonprofit organizations. The curriculum, however, is not the same for all schools.
Findley (Iowa) Elementary School fifth graders painted a snow plow blade. The school was picked for an arts program by PCAH.
“each school is located in a city in a different region of the country and has a different set of resources,” says mary schmidt Campbell, vice chairman of PCAh and dean of new York University’s Tisch school of the Arts. “For example, the school in new orleans [Batiste Cultural Arts Academy] has a strong commitment to music. Another school may have a strong commitment to dance or visual arts. each school is tailored based on its community’s needs and the resources already established there.” Celebrities including sarah Jessica Parker, Yo-Yo ma and Forest Whitaker have adopted schools to guide students, participate in performances and community events, conduct master classes, and bring visibility to these programs. “As an educator, it has been exceedingly gratifying to be able to go throughout the country to make a major investment in our public schools,” says Campbell. “if we can come up with a template or model that’s replicated, it would be a huge step forward to reforming American public schools.”
California Makes a Plea for the Arts
“everyone likes the Arts— people like the idea—but public support doesn’t equal political will,” says Craig Cheslog, principal advisor to tom torlakson, California’s superintendent of public instruction. For this reason, Cheslog, along with other California officials, including Gov. Jerry Brown, and organizations such as the California Arts Council, have joined together to form Create CA, an initiative to make arts education a priority. Create CA began to form after California received a national endowment for the Arts grant in 2011. the grant called for six representatives from the state to participate in a leadership institute in Chicago in May 2011. the group, which included torlakson, Cheslog, other educators and a high school student, realized a larger coalition was needed to get arts education taken off the back burner in California. “People don’t see the arts as a core part of learning,” says Cheslog. “they think it’s not going to help a student with their career or earn more money. it’s not true, however. Arts provide a deep engagement with 21st-century skills.” over the years, California—as with most states and districts—has cut funding to the arts due to severe budget pressures. in 2007, only 11 percent of California schools had a full arts education program. the numbers have dwindled even further since. “We’re trying to engage people to see the economic advantages and rebuild what we’ve lost,” says Cheslog. According to Cheslog, the political alignment in California makes this effort poised for success. For the first time in nearly 30 years, the governor, state board of education and state superintendent are all in agreement about the direction education should take. torlakson recently appointed a task force to develop a blueprint for creative schools by the end of 2012, when the new state legislature will be in place after the election. the task force will then present its findings next year. Cheslog says that torlakson also wants to broaden school assessments to account for creativity.
20 June 2012
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration - June 2012
District Administration - June 2012
From the Editor
Geography Ed for a Flat World
Her Own Brand of Education Reform
Finding a Cure for Senioritis
Principals as Instructional Leaders
One Tablet Per Child?
Changing Lives With Assistive Technology
District Administration - June 2012