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The Arts and a Well-Rounded Education

Date: 07 February 2017

With the adoption of ESSA in 2015, the term “core academic subjects” was replaced with a “well-rounded education,” which, as defined by the law, includes the arts and music. Appearing more than 20 times throughout the law, this emphasis on a well-rounded education creates fresh opportunities for schools and districts to expand learning beyond reading, writing and arithmetic to include a broader array of subjects such as the sciences, civics and the arts.

To highlight the new and expanded ways that the arts can be included in the continued implementation of ESSA, the Arts Education Partnership (AEP) – in conjunction with our ESSA / Well-Rounded Education Working Group – is continuing to expand our series ESSA: Mapping opportunities for the arts with a new chapter on a well-rounded education.

This newest chapter from AEP informs readers where ESSA addresses a well-rounded education and provides examples for how states and districts can incorporate the arts into their strategies for addressing priorities within Title I, teacher professional development initiatives, 21st Century Community Learning Center programs and much more. This could include providing arts courses for academically at-risk students, professional learning opportunities to help teachers integrate the arts into their classrooms or arts education experiences as part of afterschool learning programs.

In addition, ESSA provides new avenues for the arts with the creation of Title IV’s Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants – a program that is new to the federal education law. This program allows the arts to be used as an innovative tool for ensuring all students have access to a well-rounded education, a safe and healthy learning environment and classrooms ready to effectively use technology for student success. Clearly the possibilities for the arts abound!

To learn more about how the arts can be included in ESSA implementation, join us on March 18 for the 2017 AEP State Policy Symposium where more than 100 national leaders from the arts, business, cultural, education, philanthropic and public sectors will come together for a daylong conversation about the intersection between the arts and education policy. The event will take place in Washington, D.C., at the Omni Shoreham Hotel.

You can also explore the resources available on the AEP website, subscribe to our biweekly newsletter the Arts Ed Digest, and follow us on Twitter!

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