Oakland hosts Blueprint for Creative Schools roll-out
Thoughts on the convening...
By Glenna Avila, Guest Author &
Artistic Director for CalArts Community Arts Partnership (CAP)
What a treat to be in Sweet’s Ballroom in Oakland, home-away-from-home for Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Frank Sinatra, Tito Puente, Dizzie Gillespie, Lalo Guerrero, Xavier Cugat, and so many more! And how wonderful for Sweet’s Ballroom to be a part of the Oakland School of the Arts, allowing their talented students to follow in the footsteps of the some of the greatest musicians in history.
The convening on January 30-31, 2015, was made possible by CREATE CA which brought together over 225 arts leaders from across California for two days of listening, working, and participating in learning about CREATE CA and its release of A Blueprint for Creative Schools (funded by the California Arts Council). Spearheaded by the amazing Malissa Feruzzi Shriver and others, this important work began in 2011 as part of the Education Leaders Institute (ELI) funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Due to the location of the convening in Oakland, many more Northern California/Bay Area participants were in attendance than those from Southern California or any other parts of the state. Those in attendance were extraordinarily passionate and committed to making sure that arts education is in all public schools and it was heartwarming to see, feel, and hear this passion and the buzz in the ballroom.
The liveliest discussion during the convening was one on access and equity in the arts. Janice Jackson spoke about equity as a way of being: “Equity is about all of us, not just black and brown. It’s about the way we live our lives.” She sees the arts education conversation and the on-going one about equity and access as two separate conversations that need to come together. Where’s our theory of action for accomplishing this?
While the Blueprint is a great starting point, I personally found it did not adequately make clear the place for the role of higher education. This would include the fact that it doesn’t include a plan for adding dance, theater, and media arts specializations for teaching credentials and no plan for making arts education mandatory for pre-service teachers enrolled in credentialing programs. Where is the voice of higher education in conversations about how well prepared California’s high school students are for success in college? We must be thinking inclusively and system-wide to ensure the success of our students.
The other major thing that I found lacking from the discussion and report is clear directions for the inclusion of arts organizations and teaching artists in the important work of providing students with high quality arts training. I feel that we need to dig deeper within the conversation regarding classroom teachers and teaching artists and come up with a collaborative plan that includes both groups equally. Both sets of experts are needed to be able to deliver arts education to our students.Artists and teachers should be working together to design and deliver arts education. A clear plan is needed to move this forward on the agenda. Many arts organizations in California have developed significant expertise in providing professional development in the arts for classroom teachers. We need to devise a systemic plan for professional development that addresses the artistic and creative needs of classroom teachers from throughout the state.
CREATE CA is well on its way to demonstrating the collective impact of educators, administrators, arts organizations, and teaching artists who have come together to present A Blueprint for Creative Schools to the State of California and its legislators and policy makers. Now we need to work really hard on the action steps to build public will and to get policies and budgets changed so that every child in every grade level in every school and every district has access to studying dance, media arts, music, theater and the visual arts, taught by credentialed arts teachers and teaching artists every day throughout California. No small task, however I believe this group is up for it!
Glenna Avila is Artistic Director for CalArts Community Arts Partnership (CAP), Board Member of the Association for Teaching Artists (ATA), National Advisory Committee member of the Teaching Artists Guild (TAG), and Founding member of the Teaching Artists Support Collaborative (TASC)
More thoughts on the convening…
By Sandy Seufert, TASC Advisory Council
In reflecting on the CREATE CA Convening, I am thrilled about the respect and recognition TASC received, from table conversations and from members of the Policy Council for the California Alliance for Arts Education. Thinking back to our humble beginnings in 2007, TASC is now positioned to be a partner in implementing the Blueprint for Creative Schools, identifying opportunities for practiced teaching artists to work in classrooms with teachers and arts specialists, modeling effective arts integration practices and learning.
Through a variety of conversations with classroom teachers and school administrators at the conference, this theme began to surface with many of the questions sounding like this: “How can we find quality teaching artists for our school?” One area of interest for TASC would in be finding ways to help schools connect with arts providers and experienced teaching artists. Another would be in supporting teaching artist training/development in rural and smaller communities.
More research and reflection is needed, and conversations with the CREATE Leadership team, but what rang clear is an urgent need to support schools by linking them with experienced and even master teaching artists who can model quality arts integrated teaching, student learning and evaluation.
Sandy Seufert is a consultant in teaching artist training and curriculum development, a founding member of TASC, is a member of the National Advisory Committee of the Teaching Artist Guild, and is a board member of the Association of Teaching Artists.