The Well-Rounded Curriculum
Education Secretary Arne Duncan begins his remarks at the April 9, 2010 Arts Education Partnership National Forum by saying, “If there is a message that I hope you will take away from today's conference it is this: The arts can no longer be treated as a frill. As First Lady Michelle Obama has said, "the arts are not just a nice thing to have or do if there is free time or if one can afford it... Paintings and poetry, music and design... they all define who we are as a people."
Farther into the talk, he says, “We have proposed to take the $40 million for arts education that now goes to directed grants and a couple of small competitions with an array of applications and requirements, and replace it with a much bigger, competitive pool of $265 million to strengthen the teaching of arts, foreign languages, civics and government, and other subjects.
Existing arts education programs have worthy goals. But they have resulted in fragmented funding at the federal, state, and local level.
Under our new ESEA proposal, high-need districts, and states and non-profits in partnership with high-need districts, would be eligible to apply for the grants, which place a priority on cross-subject learning but don't mandate it. At the same time, we would increase access and funding for college-level, dual credit, and other accelerated courses in high-need schools to support not only a well-rounded, but a rigorous curriculum.
Two of our new and most innovative programs--Investing in Innovation or i3, and Promise Neighborhoods, loosely modeled after the Harlem Children's Zone's comprehensive community-based organization—have the potential to support effective arts education programs and partnerships as well.”
Secretary Duncan also remarks that he is “pleased that the arts community, for more than 15 years, has pioneered the development of voluntary standards in dance, drama, music, and the visual arts.
Forty-nine states now have established content and/or performance standards outlining what students should know and be able to do in one or more art form. Many districts, including Chicago, now not only articulate arts standards, but also spell out a sequential series of courses aligned with state standards.
So, arts education is making real progress toward defining quality and demonstrating outcomes, but challenges remain. A number of states have taken steps to develop rigorous arts assessments. Unfortunately, those assessments have faced setbacks and funding cutbacks in recent years.
Too many schools still fail to offer a standards-based course of study in all four arts disciplines. We all know that unacceptable disparities in arts education between low-income and affluent districts continue to persist.
Despite these challenges, and the tough budgetary climate, arts education must not just survive but thrive. A well-balanced curriculum is simply too vital to our students and our national character to let the teaching of the arts and humanities erode.”
Find the entire speech at: http://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/wellrounded-curriculum