Arts ARE Education is a national campaign
in support of arts education for all students
Getting ready for the 2023-2024 school year
All PreK-12 students have the right to a high-quality school-based arts education in dance, media arts, music, theatre, and visual art taught by certified professional arts educators in partnership with community arts providers. As a well-rounded subject area under federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, music and the arts support the daily well-being of students, foster a welcoming and safe school environment, and encourage inclusivity through multiple pathways for every child’s creative voice.
WHAT WE ARE FACING
1. TEACHER AND SUBSTITUTE SHORTAGES. School districts throughout the country are facing unprecedented shortages of qualified educators—including in the arts. Pandemic-prompted retirements and burnout are a factor, but so too are significant drops in students’ enrolling in pre-professional training programs. The availability of trained substitutes is also a growing concern. School leaders need to refrain from reassigning arts educators to teach in other subject areas and make a conscious effort to hire enough qualified substitutes to ensure the ongoing viability of programs.
2. POST-PANDEMIC INSTRUCTIONAL NEEDS. Arts programs that experienced cutbacks in staffing, resources and student enrollment will need innovative new approaches to teaching that can re-motivate students, whether they are learning in classrooms or hybrid environments. Arts educators and leaders must also consider how to help traumatized students feel safe and welcome in school spaces again, with multiple approaches that acknowledge all student voices and different learning styles.
3. LEARNING LOSS AND REMEDIATION. As school leaders work to support learners needing more support, particularly in tested subject areas, arts educators and leaders should work to ensure that students are not withdrawn from or missing arts education classes to meet additional instructional remediation in other subject areas.
4. ONGOING DISTRICT FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES FOR ARTS EDUCATION. Districts may have Elementary and Secondary Schools Education Relief Funds spending plans in place, but they will need to be modified to help distribute these dollars, and arts education can be an area supported by these funds. According to the National Council of State Legislatures analysis of federal ESSER data, to date, states had spent 87.5% of ESSER I funds, 33% of ESSER II funds and 5.49% of ESSER III funds. Now is the time to be proactive in asking for support from ESSER and other funding sources, to help rebuild programs and reach new students with arts offerings.
5. SUPPORT FOR ALL LEARNERS. Educators, school leaders, and policy makers need to continue to work toward full and equitable access to a well-rounded education for all students, including the arts—regardless of where they live, their family’s level of income, their learning styles or abilities, or skin color. To support that access, it’s also important that a concerted effort be made to recruit and retain arts education teachers from underrepresented backgrounds; a 2016 U.S Department of Education study determined that students learn best when they when they can relate to the teacher in their classroom.
6. SUPPORT FOR STUDENT WELL-BEING. Arts education offers spaces and opportunities where students can take risks, speak openly of their concerns, and listen to one another without fear of harm. Educators and administrators alike should be mindful that the arts—given their inherent nature of tolerance, collaboration, and storytelling—can help students regain their sense of trust in one another and the school environment.
WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW
Embrace the Arts ARE Education Campaign. Encourage your school board to pass the Arts ARE Education Resolution and encourage community members to sign the Pledge.
Speak with school leaders in your district about the power of arts education. Share the Arts ARE Education Statement, the campaign talking points and stories of how arts education supports students’ wellbeing and a positive school climate.
Support the arts education staffing and resource needs of schools in your district. Speak out on the value of well-resourced and trained arts educators and prepared substitutes working to support students in this post-pandemic era. Share models that support new voices and teachers of different backgrounds entering the teacher pipeline.
Reach out to your school district leadership and encourage them to apply for federal ESSER funds to support arts programs and teachers.
Help to nurture student wellbeing through arts experiences. Work with parents, school leaders and teachers to build and sustain community and cultural connections.
Celebrate with other school districts that embrace the Arts ARE Education campaign. Share your wins on the Arts ARE Education website, along with your district’s resolution.
The Arts ARE Education. As states and schools work through multiple challenges in the years ahead, arts education must remain central to a well-rounded education and fully funded to support the wellbeing of all students and the entire school community.
Schools and communities that recognize the value of arts education in the 2022-23 school year and beyond should ensure that:
Arts education programs continue to be funded.
Curriculum and scheduling designed to address “learning loss” includes the arts.
Resources that are critical to an arts program’s success should always be available.
Arts educator evaluation be done in the larger context of professional development and mindful of the post-pandemic reset of instructional “norms” still being established.
Arts classes are offered across all areas and appropriately scheduled.
Arts educators continue to be employed and teach in the discipline for which they were trained.
Professional development for arts educators be appropriate and comparable to that of other subject area teachers.
Facilities built and furnished for arts-based activities be used for that purpose.