We stay on top of the latest trends, opportunities and threats in our field. Our newsletter provides a digest of current arts education headlines; our Legislative Update tracks bills in the California Legislature that could impact arts programs in our schools; and, our blog offers an in depth view or opinion on current policy issues. Below are the latest news stories about our work.  

SB 1458 Expands School Assessments Beyond Standardized Tests

This week Governor Brown signed into law, SB 1458 (Steinberg), legislation which alters the structure of California's Academic Performance Index (API) by setting a 60% limit for standardized test performance for high schools. With the current API, standardized tests constitute 100% of the accountability measure. The remaining 40% must include graduation rates as well as other college and career readiness factors that reflect the expectations of public education and the needs of the state's workforce. Promotion rates for grades 7-12 may also be included. In primary and middle schools, standardized test performance would comprise at least 60% of the API.

The bill requires the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI) submit, for approval by the State Board of Education, valid, reliable, and stable measures of college and career readiness. SB 1458 encourages the SPI to develop school quality reviews to complement the API. The review process would feature locally convened panels to visit schools, observe teachers, interview pupils and examine pupil work. The bill also requires that the SPI report to the Legislature, by October 1, 2013, on alternative methods, in place of decile rank, for determining eligibility, preferences, or priorities for statutory programs currently using decile rank as a determining factor.

Making the Case for Title 1 Funds for Arts Education

For the past year the Alliance has been working behind the scenes to increase access to the benefits of arts education for students in Title 1 schools. Though Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has stated that Title 1 funds may be used to support arts education strategies that target the program’s goals, as well as clear evidence that arts programs are linked to higher test scores and academic achievement, there has been hesitation among schools and districts to pursue arts education strategies within Title 1 programs. 
 
When we were brought into this conversation by Arts for LA, we were hearing reports that an entire school district had decided not to use Title 1 funds for those purposes. 
We began by seeking guidance from California's State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson. His office responded by saying "Title 1 funding might be appropriately used to support arts education as a strategy to improve student achievement in English-language arts and/or mathematics", provided that certain requirements are fulfilled. 

UPDATE on SB 789 (Price)

Last Thursday, August 16, the fate of SB 789 (Price) was decided when the Assembly Appropriations Committee voted to 'hold' the bill. That means that it will not be eligible for further hearings this year and so has effectively run its course. As the original sponsors of the bill the Alliance was disappointed by the decision. We believe the bill offered an important opportunity for schools to demonstrate their commitment to creativity and innovation across the curriculum, by creating an index that would measure access to those learning opportunities.

But while this piece of legislation won’t become law, it has succeeded in raising awareness about the importance of creativity and innovation in our schools. The bill was a catalyst for numerous news stories over the past year, hundreds of letters of support to state legislators and Joint Committee on the Arts hearing in Sacramento that drew a standing room only crowd as well as a robust audience streaming live. In addition, the bill’s language was integrated into larger accountability legislation (SB 547 Steinberg), marking the first time that creativity and innovation were being considered as measurable components of a complete educational experience.

The Alliance thanks Senator Curren Price and his staff for their commitment to the legislation and to our lobbyist, Kathy Lynch, who worked tirelessly on behalf of the bill. We also want to acknowledge the 'creator' of the bill, Dan Hunter of Massachusetts, where similar legislation was passed, who worked with us to develop the legislation and lobbied for its passage. Lastly, we thank arts education advocates in California for communicating their support to legislators and recognizing that creativity is not frill but a necessary agent for reviving the state economy and our public schools.

Vote Yes on 30 and 38

 

On June 8th, the Policy Council of the California Alliance for Arts Education voted to recommend the Alliance endorse both funding initiatives on this November’s ballot. The next day the Alliance’s board ratified this recommendation.
 
“Our children Our Future: Local Schools and Early Education Investment” is sponsored by Molly Munger and supported by the State PTA. The initiative would “stop the bleeding” and put California back on a path to rebuilding funding for education. Though we have a long way to go to get back to where we belong in per pupil funding, this measure is a vital step in the right direction, and the most powerful step we can take to sustain and eventually increase arts learning opportunities for our students.
 
The “School and Local Public Safety Protection Act” is sponsored by Governor Jerry Brown. The initiative is essential to the survival of public schools in California. Should it not be approved, it is likely that every school arts program will be in jeopardy due to drastic cuts in school funding. There is nothing we can do that is more important for our students than to pass this critical measure.

Dan Hunter's Creativity Index in California

Democracy is slow—it is a world of the tortoise, not the hare.  The language to describe legislative steps—“sent to Committee,” “the committee took action,” or “adopted and engrossed”—seem to imply efficiency, celerity, and progress. However, in Massachusetts, a legislative clerk must still physically carry the printed legislation down the hall and lay it on the Governor’s desk.  Legislation is a cumbersome process often dismissed with the adage: “Two things you should never watch being made: sausage and the law.”

 
The Index of Creativity and Innovation legislation (SB 789) has passed the California Senate thanks to the leadership of Senator Curren Price (D-Los Angeles) and the sponsorship of the California Alliance for Arts Education.  The Senate sent the bill to the Assembly, where it is scheduled to be heard in the Assembly Committee on Education, on June 13..  With the approval of the Assembly and the signature of the Governor, California would become one of the first states to adopt a creative index as a tool to promote creativity in our schools.

Airplanes, Algae and Arts Education

In their work to uncover new, sustainable biofuels, The Boeing Company relies on the creativity of its workforce. Innovators at Boeing have identified algae as a possible biofuel that could lower carbon emissions for airplanes. That’s one reason why Sarah Murr, a Global Corporate Citizenship Community Investor for Boeing and a Board Member of the California Alliance, travelled to Sacramento to speak to lawmakers about the importance of a creative workforce - not only for companies like Boeing, but for the future of our state in the global economy.

“The challenge is that we have a skills shortage not a labor shortage -- especially with unemployment rates where they are,” says Murr, “We have a shortage of people with the skills for the jobs that are needed in an increasingly dynamic and competitive marketplace.” Murr delivered her message at a hearing before the Joint Committee on the Arts organized by Senator Curren Price and in sit down meetings with key legislators and members of the Governor’s staff arranged by the California Alliance.

According to Murr, “Providing comprehensive arts education programs as early as pre-school will help future generations of creative thinkers and problem solvers who will invent the next life-changing products or services – be it algae for biofuel, new lightweight materials for airplanes or something we can’t yet imagine.”

This week we learned that, after thirty-five years with the Boeing Company, Sarah Murr will be retiring in July. Those who have worked with her on arts education issues will greet this news with a mixture of gratitude, for all she has contributed, and apprehension, for all we are losing. At a time when corporate relationships to the needs of the broader community are evolving, Sarah Murr, with the support of the Boeing Corporation, has blazed a trail of unprecedented involvement and commitment to the well being and education of California's children. I invite you to learn more about the potential of corporate citizenship and the meaning of leadership in the words of Sarah's testimony.

 

Joint Committee on the Arts Hearing Streamed Live

On April 18, Senator Curren Price, chairman of the Joint Committee on the Arts, convened a hearing titled The Arts, Creativity, and Innovation in the 21st Century Classroom: How to Paint a Canvas for Success.

Experts from the field presented information on the value of creativity and the arts and explored the ways we can provide opportunities for innovation and creativity to flourish in California classrooms. 

Sarah Murr, Community Investor for The Boeing Company and California Alliance Board Member, offered testimony about preparing students with the creativity skills they need to succeed in the 21st century economy.  Read her testimony

Low-income students are entitled to arts funding

Right now, California is one of a handful of states that has resisted using federal Title 1 funds for arts education.

Despite evidence that arts education contributes to lower drop out rates and higher academic achievement, which are the stated goals of the Title 1 program, California education leadership has failed to support Title 1 funding for arts education and at-risk students in our state are going without.

Read California Alliance for Arts Education Executive Director Joe Landon’s letter to the editor to learn more.

It's All About Creativity

According to John Eger's newest blog in the Huffington Post, "Clearly something big is happening across America" and that something is creativity. Next week, arts education stakeholders from all over California will gather in Coronado to talk about "how the arts and creative education can transform California classrooms."  Next month, the California Legislative Joint Committee on the Arts will hold hearings on SB 789, legislation that will require the Governor to develop a "creativity index," which in turn would be used to measure creativity in public schools statewide. SB 789 was authored by Senator Curren Price of the 26th Senatorial District and sponsored by the California Alliance.

Local Advocacy in Stanislaus: How to Engage Parents

The Challenge: How do you connect with parents across a large, rural county with twenty-three separate school districts?

The Strategy: Invite parents to an event featuring resources for advocacy and a free night of theater.

The Story: When the Stanislaus Alliance for Arts Education launched last fall, it was clear that parents were key to preserving or expanding arts education in Stanislaus schools.

“We saw right away that the districts that had arts programs were the ones where parents were involved -- through booster clubs, PTAs or education foundations,” says Patty Larrick, the local organizer for the Stanislaus Alliance. “Our challenge was to bring all these different groups together, in order to share best practices and coordinate efforts.” 

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