Tips for advocacy within Common Core Conversations

What role can arts advocates play in the conversations happening around Common Core? We can be active contributors to conversations, helping educators see the connections between Common Core and the invaluable contributions of learning in and through the arts. Our recent Local Advocacy Retreat featured a session by Vice President for Education for the Los Angeles Music Center and California Alliance Board Chair, Mark Slavkin highlighting the risks and opportunities that Common Core presents, along with some strategic approaches for advocates. 


  • Common Core moves towards deeper learning, critical thinking and analysis
  • Attention to listening and speaking / presentation skills
  • Students encouraged to collaborate with others
  • Recognition of drama, music, choreography and poetry as forms of “text”
  • Attention to storytelling, characters, motivations
  • Chance to compare written text to audio, video presentations of same content
  • Online testing that allow access to richer content sources, more than “bubbling in”


  • Teachers will be overwhelmed by the “shift” to Common Core
  • Lack of concrete instructional resources/curriculum to guide daily instruction
  • Dramatic leap of expectations for students sets up more schools for “failure”
  • Opportunities for arts integration are ignored or given only superficial attention
  • Music and dance are ignored or under-valued, except as lyrics or text
  • Students are invited to engage in “art activities” (make a video, draw a picture) with no actual instruction in these tasks or disciplines
  • Arts integration activities are seen as a replacement for dedicated arts courses taught by arts specialist teachers

Advocacy Strategies

  1. Focus on the actual content of Common Core Standards, not the politics and name-calling around it
  2. Read the new standards to become familiar with the structure and organization
  3. Request that experts in arts education (teachers, artists, arts organizations) are part of school district planning/implementation processes for curriculum design and for professional development
  4. Do not over-promise (e.g. “we have been doing this all along!”).  Acknowledge we are all new to the Common Core standards
  5. Be clear we want both/and, that is quality arts integration AND dedicated arts instruction and course offerings