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.  

Will Measuring Creativity In Schools Help Youth Be Workforce Ready?

In an article featured in the Huffington Post, Youth Radio/Youth Media International (YMI) explores the potential impact of the creativity index proposed by SB 789 (Price), a bill sponsored by the California Alliance for Arts Education.

YMI interviewed Mary Wright, Associate Director for The Conference Board, a researcher on a report called, "Are They Really Ready To Work?", which "identified key skill sets that employers thought were important for their employees to have, and creativity and innovation were among the top five." Wright explains how she thinks it could affect the workforce readiness of young people today.

There is growing recognition that our state’s economy will be driven by ideas and innovation. According to a coalition of researchers, 81% of American corporate leaders say that “creativity is an essential skill for the 21st century work force.” Yet schools have narrowed their expectations in recent years, “teaching to the test” because standardized tests are the only public measures of school success.

Mark Slavkin's TED Talk Makes the Case for a Creativity Index

California Alliance Board Chair Mark Slavkin, was one of the featured speakers at TEDx Manhattan Beach on October 22, 2011. He described how the No Child Left Behind law has narrowed the curriculum and made it more difficult to provide quality arts education programs. He proposed the development of a new “creativity index” to hold schools accountable for more than just math and reading test scores. Watch the video. 

The Alliance is working to broaden school assessments with the introduction of SB 789 (Price), the Creative and Innovation Education Index.  This index would provide a tangible way to measure and inspire opportunities for creativity and innovation in our public schools. 

In a state where creativity and innovation have been so critical to our economic strength, the bill affirms that California remains a leader in forging a path to the future for its students. A similar “Creative Challenge Index” has been signed into law in Massachusetts and is under consideration in Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Illinois. Read more about the Creativity Index.

School Assessments Should Go Beyond Standardized Tests

SB 789 (Price) Moving Forward

With your help, SB 789 (Price) passed on the Senate Floor. It is now making its way through the Assembly. It was heard and passed in the Assembly Education Committee on June 13, 2012. It was placed on the suspense calendar by the Appropriations Committee until August 16. We are now working with Senator Price to move the bill out of committee onto the Assembly floor, where the entire assembly can vote on the issue. 

SB 789 (Price), The Index for Creative and Innovative Education, is an opportunity to advance the conversation about how schools and students are evaluated. 

Sponsored by the California Alliance for Arts Education and authored by Senator Curren Price, SB 789 would create an index to measure student opportunities for creativity and innovation in schools. If passed, it would provide a tangible way to measure and inspire learning opportunities that nurture creativity and innovation in our public schools.

Strategies for Local Advocacy

No sooner did we finish writing a handbook for our Local Advocacy Network (affectionately named the LANBook), then new challenges emerged from the work being done on the ground. Three years into the project, we are twenty-five coalitions strong and, as more and more communities join our statewide network, they bring unique circumstances that generate new strategies. From South Bay to San Jose, here are some of the approaches advocates are using to support arts education in local schools:

  • School Board Meetings: The South Bay Alliance made sure a member of their team was present at each and every town hall and school board meeting last year. Through frequent communication within the team, they presented a consistent message to the Board and met new decision points with solutions.

What Can a Website Do (Welcome to ours!)

We were just going to make a few changes to our website. Add a new section about local advocacy. Simplify our action center. And then, as often happens when you begin adding new elements to something, the whole thing changed. 

As we explored questions about goals and possibilities, the scope of the project grew. We discovered new web platforms that made it easy to add new elements and content. We heard from local advocates and stakeholders like you that you wanted easy ways to participate online and to find the research and tools you need to make the case for arts education in your community.

 

So today we launch a fully re-designed website! Here are some of the things it can do: 

1. It provides an online home for the twenty-five coalitions in our Local Advocacy Network and more opportunities for you to post comments, ask questions and participate. 
 
2. The new Action Center provides an array of grab and go advocacy tools from Three Minute Actions to three-week projects. And, we’ve simplified the navigation (and even made out font size larger per your request) so you can find what you’re looking for quickly and easily. 

Arts Education and an Innovative Workforce

It’s well-known that a well-developed arts education teaches communications skills, teamwork, problem solving, responsibility, and the ability to adapt to change. According to Sarah Murr, Arts Education and an Innovative Workforce, all of these skills are considered critical by Boeing for its highly skilled workforce. However, tight state budgets and a lack of appreciation for what an arts education provides a young mind, and subsequently an adult mind, have resulted in the abandonment or near abandonment of arts programs across the nation. Read Murr’s blog about why restoring arts education programs needs to be prioritized to ensure the next generation can compete in a global economy that is driven by knowledge and ideas.

 

Arts Education in California Schools Relies on Patchwork of Funding

This recent SF Examiner article offers snapshot of how schools in San Francisco and all over California rely on a "fraying patchwork of grants, programs and donations” for arts education. Some districts rely almost entirely on parent fundraising to maintain these programs, while schools in lower-income communities go without. San Francisco’s situation reflects conditions that exist across the state according to Mark Slavkin, chairman of the California Alliance for Arts Education, “The northeastern states are spending twice as much on education as California,” Slavkin said.

Governor Takes Action on Education Bills

Governor Brown took action on several education bills last week, signing AB 1330 into law and vetoing SB 547. Read Alliance Executive Director, Joe Landon's response to the Governor's action and how it will affect arts education in California classrooms.

The Alliance's new Executive Director, Joe Landon

Los Angeles, CA, July 7, 2011 - The Board of Directors of the California Alliance for Arts Education has named Joe Landon the organization’s new executive director, effective August 1. Landon currently serves as policy director for the Alliance.  He will replace Laurie Schell, who has served as executive director for the past ten years.

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