May 10, 2016

Refresh arts education in the SFUSD

Tonight the Arts Education Master Plan (AEMP) Steering Committee delivered a meticulously thought-through report to the San Francisco Board of Education with recommendations to deeply refresh the AEMP so that the district can realize the goal of arts for every student, every day, in every school. I took notes in my sketchbook and also made public comments. I had two minutes for public comment, but I had a lot more to say - so I’ll share some more here.

In my comments, I voiced support for the plan citing my successful experience using arts to engage students in my many years as a substitute teacher and my belief that San Francisco should produce the most creative and innovative students.

I would have liked to have spoken more as Director of the Arts Education Alliance of the Bay Area about the eagerness of our member organizations to work more intensively with SFUSD students and to have a clearer path for those partnerships to happen. If we had an office in the proposed Arts Center dedicated to the arts providers in the city, much of the time and energy currently expended on the logistics of partnerships could instead be spent on the substance of those relationships.

I would have liked to have spoken more about the power of arts integration to help students achieve all learning goals. Besides the fact that students are more engaged with all of their learning when it is at the service of their own self-expression, the arts are a powerful tool for researching and truly exploring subject. Let’s help students imitate contemporary artists, who choose a subject and use all possible tools to investigate.

Common Core Standards put an emphasis on literacy, but that literacy is not just limited to writing in prose. Let’s allow students to try out visual, musical, and movement literacy and become experts at whichever form is best for them. Let’s have arts specialists work side-by-side with teachers of other subjects (I’ve always found that riffing with a co-teachers is more efficient than common planning time). 

Brent Stephens, chief academic officer of the district, will be creating a more detailed plan of action in coming months, at which point there may be another opportunity for adding public comment in support of arts education.

In the meantime, there is one idea that emerged in response the the presentation is that seems like it could be implemented right away. School site councils should be required to address the AEMP in their Balanced Scorecard/Single Plan for Student Achievement.

Tags AEMP artsed boardwatch sfusd artsint reblog