When we think of arts education, what comes to mind for many is our students’ eye-opening engagement with the world through music, visual arts, or filmmaking. But as we celebrate Arts in Education Week (September 13-19), it’s important to remember that those rich artistic experiences couldn’t happen without the time, effort, and planning of our nation’s dedicated arts teachers.
That’s why the U.S. Department of Education recently awarded the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (the Kennedy Center) a $6.5 million grant under its Arts in Education National Program. The Kennedy Center is a national leader in helping schools and teachers offer rich arts education experiences. For more than three decades, the Kennedy Center has partnered with schools in both the D.C. metro area and nationwide to make the arts an integral part of every child’s education. Two of the major programs supported by this grant are Changing Education Through the Arts (CETA) and Ensuring the Arts for Any Given Child (AGC).
In CETA schools, the arts help students learn across the pre-K-12 curriculum. School-wide arts integration is supported by sustained professional development that includes courses and workshops led by expert teaching artists and arts educators. More than 1,000 D.C.-area teachers will participate in CETA this year.
CETA’s strategies in professional development will be shared with more than 160 communities through the Kennedy Center’s Partners in Education (PIE) national affiliates in 43 states. Through PIE, more than 19,000 local teachers will participate in workshops and courses led by the Kennedy Center’s teaching artists.
AGC addresses inequities in access to arts education. Local Community Arts Teams, with guidance from the Kennedy Center, spend a year creating a collective vision for the arts in grades pre-K to 8, assessing needs and resources, and establishing goals and action plans for addressing gaps in arts education access. In years two through four, the plans are implemented with technical assistance from the Kennedy Center. Sixteen AGC communities will implement their access plans in 2015–16, and at least three new communities will begin the planning process. Overall, the program will involve more than 47,000 teachers and 800,000 students, most of them in high-needs schools.
The grant also supports several other programs, including ARTSEDGE, an online platform for arts integration resources and interactive learning events for students, teachers, schools and communities nationwide.
“This funding will enable us to continue the powerful work of the Center’s arts education programs and broaden our reach,” said Mario Rossero, the Center’s vice president of education in a press release issued today. The AENP grant, he continued, “will allow us to become a more relevant, robust, and powerful resource to the nation.”
In all of their ED-supported programs, the Kennedy Center focuses on serving low-income students and students with disabilities. More than 55 percent of the students expected to participate in the Center’s 2015–16 programs are from low-income families.
Arts education — like all education — should not be the privilege of some, but a right for all. We’re proud to call the Kennedy Center our partner as we work to give every child his or her right to an excellent arts education.