Every student has the right to a dynamic, creative education, and California Education Code requires it. Yet 88 percent of California schools are failing to meet this standard. This. Must. Change. That’s why California State PTA joined forces with Create CA to launch one of the most impactful public will campaigns for the arts in recent history demanding arts education for all students.
Simply put – arts education should not be optional.
This week, the 2017-2018 arts education data was released and you can see it here: www.createca.dreamhosters.com/artsed-dataproject-2-2.
The good news is that over the past five years there has been positive growth in delivering arts education to students. The bad news is that it will take 45 years for half of California’s middle and high school students to receive the education they are legally entitled to.
California State PTA’s Arts Education Committee Chair Erin Jenks sat down to take a look at how her school district measures up.Here’s what she had to say about the data in her community.
“I am fortunate enough to live in North Orange County, where we have relatively good schools. I have five children and eleven grandchildren and have been a member and serving in PTA for over 25 years. I have been a school district employee for 23 years; first as an instructional assistant and now as a library media tech (I run a high school library at an alternative high school). Between being a mom with all of the fun things that go with that (car-pools, team mom, team dinners etc), I have also had the good fortune to work with kids in my employment. That’s why I continue to serve in PTA – kids matter!
When I was in sixth grade, Fridays were dance days. I remember that everyone loved those Fridays – even the boys. And although Friday was always test day, no one missed because it was dance day. One Friday, the class was being particularly rambunctious and the teacher said she would cancel afternoon dance if we did not settle down. Needless to say, no one believed her, until she told us no dancing today. I still remember all these years later that collective groan and a palpable feeling of disappointment permeated the entire class room and every student in the classroom was quiet for the remainder of the day.
When I reviewed the Data Project and I looked at the statistics for the school district I grew up in as well as the one that I work at and where my children attended school, I experienced that same feeling of disappointment that I did when that Friday dance class was cancelled. Imagine my consternation that things are not better since my Friday dance days, but are actually worse.
At the school where I work only 34% of students are enrolled in art – visual art 17%, 17% other. There is no dance, no music, no theater. Every day these students struggle towards graduation. Knowing that kids who receive arts education are five times more likely to graduate and that there is inequity in who receives a quality arts education, I am saddened to see that not just my district but so many others have not placed the value an arts education that should be a priority.
Arts matter – dancing, acting, singing, videos, poetry – what makes our souls sing, what makes everything better and easier – the arts.
Take a closer look at the data for your school district to see how it compares. Share your response with us at email@example.com and with your PTA network and School Board.
Together, we must spark a movement with the public, parents, educators, artists and policy makers to demand a comprehensive, sequential arts curriculum for all children in grades K-12. If you haven’t yet, join California’s movement for arts education. Sign up at www.createca.org.