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Pennsylvania Arts Education Network Policy Agenda

All Pennsylvania students, to succeed in school, work, and life, need creativity, critical thinking, cognition, collaboration, cross-cultural understanding, and communication skills.  The Commonwealth, in order to grow a competitive, innovation-based economy and foster vibrant, inclusive communities, needs to prepare all students to be successful 21st Century citizens.  The Network advocates for the following policy recommendations which will provide a rigorous arts education for all students.

  1. The Pennsylvania Department of Education should restore at least one full-time Fine Arts and Humanities Advisor.  This position has been vacant since 2010, but is necessary to support quality arts education opportunities for all students and support professional development and technical assistance to educators across the state and to colleagues within the PDE.
  2. The General Assembly must provide annual state funding to school districts in 2015-2016 and each year thereafter in an amount, and distributed through a formula, that supports the principles of equity, adequacy, accountability, and predictability.  Because Pennsylvania school districts began each of the most recent four school years with hundreds of millions less in state support for student programs and services than in 2010, arts programs for students have suffered some of the greatest cutbacks in both financially struggling and wealthier school districts, with tens of thousands of students having their arts education programs diminished, and more threatened for future years.
  3. The Pennsylvania Department of Education should at least annually inform all school districts that they may use Title I and Title II funds to support arts education projects that achieve Title I and Title II goals.  This interpretation of federal policy is supported by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in repeated correspondence since 2009 to the education community, and can make available important funding flexibility to enable districts to support arts education opportunities for students.
  4. The Department of Education should establish, and the General Assembly should support, a statewide Arts Education Data System. Such a system should be integrated with other reporting requirements for school entities, report annually on the status, quality and equity of arts education programs and opportunities for K-12 students, and be available for use by policymakers, educators and the public as a guide for accountable, data-informed decision-making.
  5. State policymakers should reestablish the Governor’s School for the Arts, which was canceled as a result of state budget cuts in 2009.   For thirty years, the Governor’s School exemplified Pennsylvania’s leadership in arts education and provided over 10,000 young people with extraordinary opportunities to develop their artistic talents, intellects, self-confidence, and leadership.
  6. The Pennsylvania Department of Education should develop endorsements to be added to other teaching certificates for teachers of dance and theatre. Because students are expected to achieve state standards in both dance and theatre, it is logical that the state would have teacher certification in those subjects. Since it does not, and there is currently an add-on certification procedure (endorsement) in place that allows teachers in some other subject areas to add other content areas to their existing certificates, this procedure should be adopted for dance and theatre.  Teachers obtaining an endorsement would then be assured of having some level of preparation that would increase their teaching skills in dance and theatre.
  7. All school districts should require at least one high school credit in the arts as a graduation requirement.  Under Pennsylvania’s standards-based graduation requirements, the state does not specify which credit-bearing courses students must pass in order to graduate from high school, but school districts are empowered to do so.  Many, but not all, districts already have such a requirement.  Arts courses are particularly useful in helping students develop 21st Century Skills of creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication, as well as increasing the odds for students to stay enrolled in school and remain engaged in their school community.  This course must be aligned to the state standards.

Adopted by Steering Committee March 2015

(Print Version)

Pennsylvania Arts Education Network Steering Committee Members:

American Alliance for Theatre and Education – PA Representative

Arts Education Collaborative

Citizens for the Arts in Pennsylvania Crayola

Education Policy and Leadership Center

Educational Theatre Association – PA Chapter

Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance

Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council

Jump Street, Inc.

PA Museums

Pennsylvania Alliance for Arts Education

Pennsylvania Art Education Association

Pennsylvania Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development

Pennsylvania Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development

Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators

Pennsylvania Humanities Council

Pennsylvania Music Educators Association

Pennsylvania PTA

Pennsylvania School Boards Association

Pennsylvania State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance

Pennsylvania State Education Association – Fine Arts Caucus

Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children

Progressive Music

Public Citizens for Children and Youth

VSA Pennsylvania

Beth Cornell, Former Arts Advisor to the PA Department of Education

Clyde McGeary, Former Arts Advisor to the PA Department of Education

Jamie Kasper, Former Arts Advisor to the PA Department of Education

Cory Wilkerson, Communications Co-Chair, National Coalition for Core Arts Standards