ESSA Arts Indicator: A Case Study in Systems Change

Can systems change really happen? What key strategies and messaging can bring it about? The Illinois ESSA arts indicator process provides a specific case study in how strategic advocacy can bring about meaningful change to advance arts education. Come to learn strategies you can apply to your own policy advocacy efforts!

Presenter Bios

Jonathan VanderBrug serves as Deputy Director-Civic Engagement for Arts Alliance Illinois. He coordinated the 18-month process of updating Illinois’ arts learning standards and co-chaired the Illinois ESSA Arts Indicator Work Group.He has also served as Community Educator, Field Museum; Health Care Justice Director, Campaign for Better Health Care; and Policy Advisor, Michigan House of Representatives. He earned his Master of Nonprofit Administration degree from North Park University. In 2017, the Illinois Art Education Association awarded Jonathan its President’s Award for his arts education advocacy.

Dr. Jason Helfer is Deputy Officer for Instructional Education at the Illinois State Board of Education. Prior to this he was an associate professor and department chair at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. Dr. Helfer has taught at Millikin University and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He was also an elementary school teacher in Evanston, Illinois and Grapevine-Colleyville, Texas.

Karla Estela Rivera is an artist and advocate, dedicating her career to uplifting and creating opportunities for, with, and in underserved communities. Her beginnings as a teaching artist served as a foundation for roles in systems-level leadership, including as co-chair of the IL Fine Arts Indicator work group. Currently, she serves a executive director of the historic Free Street Theater. She is a native of Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, holds a BA from Columbia College Chicago, with graduate studies at NYU. Karla still performs (live & on zoom) and consults on advocacy initiatives nationally.

Access additional 2020 AEP Virtual Gathering resources here.

Author profile

Title: 2280 Pasos Bajo un Cielo Nublado | Artist: Hernán Jourdan | Medium: Film

When I was asked to create a work of art exploring literacy, I wanted to create a dance but I had no dancers or a studio, so I chose to use my own body in the space I had, my yard. Fluent Nature is video of micro-choreography that explores what cannot be expressed with words, how nature has its own language, and how placing the human body in nature changes the story.

Title: What Is Me and What Is Not Me | Artist: Alex Chadwell | Medium: Music

My thinking on arts and literacy centers around the concept of literacies and artmaking as both sense-making and meaning-making processes that organically and inevitably overlap, intersect, and reciprocate. Compositionally, What is me and what is not me is a sound collage of sorts (there is no notation for the piece, and I'd be hard pressed to recreate it accurately) that abstractly and aurally represents the relationships between literacies and artmaking.

Title: A Curious Honeybee | Artist: Gideon Young | Medium: Film

Offering welcome through traditional and digital elements of literacy, A Curious Honeybee provides an experiential learning environment by activating visual, musical, natural, and emotional literacies.

Title: Tercera Llamada | Artist: Karilú Forshee | Medium: Audio

La Carpa Theatre is a project that I am currently directing in the Detroit Latinx community. The project aims to strengthen and uplift youth voices through devised theatre, in the style of the Mexican Carpas. This audio was created in the theatrical environment envisioned for our project. The ways in which literacies are re-defined are at the heart of La Carpa Theatre's mission.

Title: Literaseas | Artist: MJ Robinson | Medium: Graphite and ink on paper with digital edits

Title: A Riddle | Artist: MJ Robinson | Medium: Graphite on paper with digital edits

Title: False Binaries | Artist: MJ Robinson | Medium: Graphite on paper with digital edits