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.  

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.” 

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.

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