Tag Archives: Arizona Department of Education

Arts in Education Week

During a recent episode of “Jeopardy,” the final question required knowledge of both children’s literature and opera. Think Milne’s “Winnie the Pooh” meets Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Mikado.” Only one contestant seemed to know much about either — and he walked away with the cash. I’m guessing there’s an art teacher he ought to be thanking back home.

It’s been heartening to see arts and culture play such a pivotal role in 9/11 anniversary ceremonies. Sunday’s event at the newly opened 9/11 Memorial in NYC featured Yo-Yo Ma, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Emi Ferguson, Paul Simon and James Taylor. Opening remarks by Michael Bloomberg quoted Shakespeare, and poetry was prevalent throughout.

The Pushcart Players perform one of five school shows offered by Mesa Arts Center this season

Too often our nation forgets all that has been forged by arts and culture, and fails to appreciate the role they can play in moving us forward. So I’m delighted that Congress passed a bill last year designating the second week of September “National Arts in Education Week.”

For those who love the arts, no explanation of their impact or importance is needed. Art is an instinct, in impulse. An adventure of imagination as necessary as air. For others, they seem a mere nicety at best — perhaps because the joys of art never touched their lives as children.

But those unmoved by art’s aesthetic power should recognize its more tangible benefits. Art creates jobs. Creates cities where people want to live. Creates schools full of innovators and imaginators. Maybe even the “creative class” touted by a presidential candidate in his stump speeches.

Ninety percent of Arizonans believe that arts education is either important or very important, according to results of a public opinion poll conducted by ASU in May 2009 — a poll cited in the background report for this year’s Arizona Town Hall, the first of 98 Arizona Town Halls to focus on Arizona arts and culture. www.aztownhall.org.

The Arizona Arts Education section of the report was authored by Mandy Buscas (then director of arts learning for the Arizona Commission on the Arts, now the arts education outreach coordinator for Mesa Arts Center) and Lynn Tuttle (director of arts education for the Arizona Department of Education).

MAC presents Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters for grades K-6

Their work considers results of the 2009 Arts Education Census. It also looks at federal, state and local educational policies — noting that state support for arts in education has suffered significant losses of late due to “efforts to close significant stage budget shortfalls.”

Their reporting on the arts census notes that “20% of schools offered no courses in any arts discipline” and that “79% of schools spend less than $1 per year per student for arts instruction.” This despite the fact that U.S. employers rank creativity/innovation among the top five skills growing in importance.

So what can be done to move Arizona forward? A report issued after the Arizona Town Hall on arts and culture says that “Arizona residents need to speak up, stand for what we support, and make that support known at the ballot box at all levels, from the legislature, to the superintendent of public instruction, and to local school boards.”

It sounds rather daunting if you’re not accustomed to advocating for issues with local and stage officials, but there are plenty of resources to help you get started — including Arizona Citizens Action for the Arts. www.azcitizensforthearts.org.

The report also urges the arts and culture community to partner with the business community to “lobby for improved arts education” — and calls on nonprofit organizations and arts professionals in our communities to “continue augmenting arts education in the schools.” Think artist residencies, school field trips and such.

There’s plenty we can do as parents. Volunteer to help with art projects in the classroom. Coordinate field trips to places like libraries, performing arts venues, museums and exhibit spaces. Donate art-related supplies to local schools. Urge schools to integrate arts learning into other subjects. Vote art at every opportunity.

MAC presents Native American Song & Dance for grades K-12

Folks who separate art from the other disciplines, orchestrating false dichotomies that pit science and math against music and theater should learn more about artists like Emi Ferguson, a distinguished student of both music and epidemiology. Or scientists like Oliver Sacks.

To learn more about arts and education in Arizona, sign up for the free arts learning newsletter from the Arizona Commission on the Arts. www.azarts.gov.

The latest issue features details on the Poetry Out Loud program, a student art competition, an opportunity to participate in the Kennedy Center Partners in Education program, Target field trip grants, teacher workshops and more.

As for the “Jeopardy” answer that won the big bucks, it was “Pooh-bah.”

— Lynn

Note: Additional arts in education resources include the President’s Committee on Arts and Humanities (www.pcah.gov), Americans for the Arts (www.artsusa.org) and the Arts Education Partnership (www.aep-arts.org). Learn more about Mesa Arts Center arts education programs at www.mesaartscenter.com.

Coming up: Country music meets arts and culture, Art meets airport, Who let the cats out?, Shakespeare meets Sweeney Todd


Art and elections

First, take a moment.

Consider all the things you go out of your way, sometimes way out of your way, to get for free.

Think free tacos after Diamondback victories, free cup of java when you buy a bag of beans, free totebag when you pop for pricey cosmetics.

Now take a moment to consider their real significance. I’m guessing it didn’t take all that long.

So what would you say to an opportunity to enjoy a free event that could have real importance for Arizonans eager to move Arizona arts and culture forward?

Tacos, espresso and lipstick are all perfectly wonderful–but terribly trivial compared to the issues affecting arts and education.

Think greater depth and breadth of offerings. Think increased access. Think more effective partnerships.

Registered Arizona voters will have the opportunity to vote this fall for candidates in several key races–governor, attorney general, legislators and more.

Perhaps most important to parents is the election for superintendent of public instruction. Our kids spend most of their waking time in the classroom, though education policy and practice too often take a back seat to other concerns–shopping for cool back-to-school gear or finding healthy lunchbox fare.

Grab your calendar (now would be lovely)–and save this date and time: Thursday, July 29, from 5:30-7:30pm. It might be among the two best hours you devote to your child’s education.

It’s the day the “Superintendent Candidates Forum” is being presented by the Arizona Alliance for Education and Arizona Citizens/Action for the Arts. It’s free (just preregister online) and it’s the place to be if you care about the role of arts in education.

The forum is being hosted by the spectacular Musical Instrument Museum in northeast Phoenix, and will feature “an opportunity for citizens to meet candidates for superintendent of public instruction, get to know their platforms and network with peers about issues facing Arizona schools.”

Let’s face it. It’ll be harder to whine later if you don’t care for our collective choice if you don’t invest the time up front to do your homework–and to vote. A list of candidates running for the office of superintendent of public instruction is available on the website of the Arizona secretary of state.

If you love all things arts and education, check out the Joint Arts Education Conference taking place at the MIM on Thursday, July 29, from 8am-5:30pm. There’s also the Southwest Arts Conference, happening at the Chandler Center for the Arts both Thursday afternoon and all day Friday.

Registration fees apply for conference attendance, and registration should be completed by July 23. Discounts are available for eligible students through July 23 as well. Event details are noted at the end of this post.

Why settle for two hours when you can spend two whole days learning and networking with fellow arts administrators, educators, teaching artists, arts advocates and arts enthusiasts?

As fond as I am of 2 for 1 offers on shoes that make me sing, it’s the chance to meet candidates and fellow arts enthusiasts that inspires me to haul out my happy dance.

Consider yourself warned.


Forum facts:

Candidates scheduled to participate include Dugan, Huppenthal, Price, Kotterman and Williams.

Candidates will respond to a series of questions related to the Arizona Arts Standards (adopted in 2006), the development of arts education curriculum for students and their individual committment to providing access to quality arts education in Arizona schools.

Attendees will be able to submit questions for consideration.

The forum will be moderated by KJZZ host and reporter Steve Goldstein and broadcast live over the Internet (though I favor attending in person so you can experience some of the magic of the MIM).

The forum follows the Joint Arts Education Conference, presented by the Arizona Department of Education and the Arizona Commission on the Arts.

Guest speakers at the conference include Rob Davidson of the VH-1 Save the Music Foundation.

This conference also features results from the first statewide Arizona Arts Education census, which examines the status of arts education across the state.

Note: To enjoy an intriguing take on fostering creativity across school subjects, see “The Creativity Crisis” by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman which appears in the current issue of “Newsweek” magazine.