As PTA leaders and members, we can lead the way to quality education for all children that includes the arts! The Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) provides a great opportunity for parents and teachers to let decision-makers know how important the arts are to learning. School districts must engage parents, teachers and local communities in creating a Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP). These plans describe goals and specific measures the district will take in each of eight state priority areas, including providing students with access to required areas of study such as the arts.
ADVOCACY OPPORTUNITIES IN CALIFORNIA LCAPS
The LCFF offers historic opportunities for school districts to set new, locally-driven priorities aimed at improving outcomes for students who are often under-served in public schools. Arts education aligns with LCFF goals and contributes to a set of unique skills and outcomes that are shown to help students succeed in school and in life.
In the coming weeks and months, districts will be updating their LCAPs to determine priorities and funding for the coming years. The California Alliance for Arts Education in partnership with Arts for LA and LA County’s Arts for All has created a set of materials and training to empower advocates to contribute to these important conversations, educating officials about the benefits of arts education.
QUESTIONS EVERYONE SHOULD ASK ABOUT ARTS EDUCATION
Here are five key questions you should ask your school and district leaders as your school board decides how to allocate money, to make sure they know the importance of an arts education plan, dedicated resources, and a way to measure progress:
- Does our school have a quality arts program? What is currently being offered at our school? In our district? Finding this out will lay the groundwork for what you need to do next. Use the Insider’s Guide to Arts Education step-by-step guide for assistance.
- How can arts education best be integrated into the district’s Local Control and Accountability Plan? What programs should every child receive? How will the district provide these? Ask questions to find out whether your school district is making a long-term commitment to support arts in the curriculum.
- Are the arts included in professional development for Common Core State Standards? The state is giving districts additional money to prepare teachers for new state standards, called Common Core State Standards. Is our district including lessons on how to integrate the arts into language arts, math, science, and history?
- Does our school district use its Title I money to support arts education? The U.S. Department of Education has released guidance stating, “Activities that support the arts, in conjunction with other activities, can form an important part of an LEA’s Title I program.”
- How can the district use Local Control Funding money to provide arts education for low-income students, English-Language Learners, and foster youth? Arts education is listed as one of the state priorities for the new funding formula. Research shows the arts are a powerful tool that helps children – especially our most needy students – succeed.