Art advocates worried about the effect of new curriculum standards on art education in U.S. schools

Published: Friday, Dec. 21 2012 6:42 p.m. MST

The impending rollout of Common Core State Standards in all but four U.S. states has advocates for arts education feeling squeamish about whether the rigorous standards will squeeze arts instruction out of school curricula, according to the advocacy group Americans for the Arts.

David Coleman, an architect of the standards and incoming president of the College Board, claims the arts will continue to have an important role in education after the adoption of Common Core State Standards in 46 of 50 U.S. states (including Utah).

Coleman said that "the arts have a central and essential role in achieving the finest aspects of the common core," as quoted in Education Week's Curriculum Matters blog.

Literacy is built by reading, writing, listening and speaking, Coleman wrote, and the standards explicitly include coherent knowledge about arts.

"The arts have a great advantage in that they place a priority on the careful observation that reading requires," he wrote. "No one looks at a great work of art once; likewise, any great piece of writing deserves careful consideration and reconsideration. The arts can train students to look and look again; to listen and listen until one really hears."

A mapping project accompanying common core standards provides a framework of suggestions for incorporating works of art, music and film into lessons that support common core standards at various grade levels. English language teachers could team with art or music teachers for the projects, the guide suggests.

The arts — dance, music theater and visual arts — are considered "core academic subjects" under the Elementary & secondary Education Acts (also known as the No Child Left Behind Act).

The arts community has the opportunity to take the lead in discussions about incorporating arts education into common core standards, Coleman wrote, "to lead teachers and students in the pleasure and rigor of analyzing and making art. To ravish teachers and students alike with the transforming power of examining and making well-wrought things. To make us more creative observers and observers, all at once."

Americans for the Arts makes the following recommendations regarding eventual reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act:

• Retain the arts in the definition of core academic subjects of learning

• Require annual state reports on student access to core academic subjects

• Improve national data collection and research in arts education

• Reauthorize the arts in education programs of the U.S. Department of Education.

EMAIL: cbaker@deseretnews.com

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