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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.

Dreams of Education

Merryl Goldberg, Chair, Visual and Performing Arts Department, California State University San Marcos, and author of Arts Integration: Teaching Subject Matter Through the Arts in Multicultural Settings (Pearson, 2012, 4th edition)

I love being with my students. They exude potential, work hard in class, and have a uniquely wonderful spirit and enthusiasm for learning.  They also are pretty creative when it comes to figuring out things they don’t know.  For example, in the beginning of the year when I showed them pictures of musical instruments, even though they had a hard time identifying most of the instruments, they did their very best to invent ways to spell the names of instruments once we labeled them together in class.  Here are a few invented spellings for instruments such as cello, cymbals, xylophone, violin, harp, saxophone, trombone, flute, guitar, oboe, timpani, and bassoon:  

chellow, chelo, cielo, symbols, zilphon, xailaphone, villien, violen, arp, saxiphone, trumbone, fluit, kitour, clairanet, obo, tymphony, timponee, bazoon.  

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.

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?

Napa, Yolo, Nevada and San Luis Obiipo Counties Join Network

The California Alliance for Arts Education is delighted to announce that as a result of our ongoing partnership with the California Arts Council, four new communities have joined the Local Advocacy Network. In 2008, the California launched the Network in response to a shift toward local decision-making. Since that time, the project has grown to include close to thirty California communities, providing each with strategic assistance, communication tools and professional development so that they can effectively advocate for arts education. A warm welcome to our newest members! 

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. 

Passing An Arts Plans Pays Off: OC Districts Get Grants to Fund Plans

The Orange County Community Foundation gave out the second round of grants to ten OC school districts who had completed a district plan for arts education and also had an active Alliance for Arts Education in their community. These grants are matched by the school district and must move some aspect of their bigger plan forward such as professional development for teachers and purchase of musical instruments. The Boeing Company and Arts Orange County have been instrumental in launching the Orange County Arts Education Collaborative Fund.

Resources for LCFF

In June, California passed historic reforms to our school financing system. After four years of funding cuts, districts now have the ability to make decisions that help to restore, make improvements and set a foundation for a more responsive and outcome driven educational program at the local level.

The new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) provides a base level of funding for all districts, with additional funds for districts with higher needs. It also gives local school boards unprecedented control over how these new funds are spent. In this new paradigm, the role of local advocates is critical. 

Opinion: Why students make the best arts education advocates

There’s an irony surrounding education reform and advocacy.  Namely, that the beneficiaries of so much work and effort – the students -- are rarely consulted. 

Granted, student involvement in education reform has its limitations. Most students in the K-12 public education system cannot vote. As full time students, there sometimes aren’t enough hours in the day for sleeping let alone effective advocacy.  But most importantly, many students think their voices don’t have the weight that adult voices do. This last reason is the easiest to change because it’s simply not true. 

Arts education is exalted as a way to find your voice. So why not allow studentS to speak up for their right to keep speaking? Interning at the California Alliance after years of being a student involved in a public school’s drama, dance, and choir programs made me realize arts advocacy doesn’t have to (and arguably shouldn’t) be as exclusive as it may seem.


Student Voices Video Makers Win Adobe Software for their Schools

Last month marked the close of the Alliance’s Student Voices campaign, which gave students from all over California a platform to share their creativity and passion for the arts with their legislators. Our first-ever student video campaign drew an inspired array of submissions that showcased the artistry, hard work and zeal of student artists.

Thanks to a generous donations from Adobe, the students whose videos received the most likes have won free Adobe software for their schools.
Melody Lee and Irene Lee, students at the Orange County for the Arts took first place and a video created by Michelle Coder and Cody Watson in partnership students at Ridgepoint School, a middle school in Sacramento, came in second. Congratulations to both on their unique vidoes and their successful efforts to spread the word about the campaign on social media.