FLORIDA ADVOCATES ARTS EDUCATION LEGISLATION
TALLAHASSEE, FL-Gearing up to advance arts education legislation, the
Florida Art Education Association (FAEA) along with its sister arts
associations and guided by an advocacy group, Arts for a Complete Education
(ACE), prepared members and parents to advance four legislative agenda
items. According to FAEA president Nancy Krebsbach, the initial event will
take place at an ACE Day at the Capitol on March 18 and will continue
throughout the legislative session. Members will meet legislators and
advanced the four items during visitations. FAEA published newsletter
briefing and background reports for members.
"Serious policy advocacy is not displaying art, hanging banners, or sending
out PSA's," says Kathy Hawk, NAEA Vice President. "These are nice to
provide awareness about children's art, but if you want to get money for
arts education, get requirements changed, you have to be at the table; you
have to propose specific changes and provide the research to back them up.
The FAEA and the other arts groups in Florida have done their homework and
I extend my highest commendations to them."
Florida's four agenda items were selected by the boards of the arts
associations and work on the four items began May 1997. The items are:
* Address Education First
Aimed at supporting education legislation that incorporates dance, music,
theater and the visual arts into the core curriculum for all students, it
ensures that arts programs are taught by trained and qualified arts
One of the critical dimensions is the focus on the definition of arts
education as student learning in the arts, and connecting it to the state's
commitment-to-excellence program. This meant that arts entertainment,
enrichment, and exposure methodologies were not useful enough to accomplish
student learning for all students throughout Florida.
"Grass roots opportunity means grass roots responsibility," said Hawk. No
amount of legislation or resource material will be effective if they are
not utilized. Individual arts teachers and representatives of the state
art education associations must be at the decision making tables! This
means being at the site-based management committees within the school,
attending local school board meetings, and state level hearings and
meetings. If the activities of Florida are to spread throughout the
country, individuals and state associations must become active and sustain
their efforts. The ones that should do this are the individual teachers
and their state associations.
* Support the Sunshine State Standards for Arts Education for
Implementation at the District Level by Qualified Arts Specialists.
"Local districts should be held accountable for implementation of
curriculum frameworks for arts education and national standards," said ACE
Executive Director, Jennifer McInnes. "Accountability and support for the
implementation of the Sunshine State Standards will be needed to ensure
academic excellence for all students in all subject areas including arts
education. In order to accomplish academic excellence we must require all
arts instruction be delivered by certified and qualified arts specialists
in appropriate and well equipped classrooms so that standards can be met."
* Improve Student Graduation and Entrance Requirements in the Arts
Currently, Florida statutes cite that students may take one-half to one
credit in practical arts, vocational or exploratory education or in
performing arts. This regulation potentially allows students to graduate
from high school without having taken any substantive arts courses at all.
In a recent study by NAEA on state-level arts requirements, 32 states have
adopted the Arts as part of the recommended course of study for high school
graduation. There are no arts pre-requisites required for admission into
Florida's colleges and universities. Advocates seek to require one full
credit in one of the arts as a requirement for high school graduation and
for admission into any Florida college or university.
* Account for the Student Competency in the Arts
Many Florida colleges and universities do not count arts grades in the
admission process. The arts omission makes the admission picture skewed by
lowering grade point averages of students who excel in the arts but are
average in the "counted" courses. Advocates asked for legislation that
requires admissions policies to include arts study (grades). "The U. S.
Department of Education recommended Arts as part of the high school
requirement for graduation in the national report Preparing Your Child for
College released in October 1997" said Krebsbach, "and we believe Florida
students should be able to compete in the same environment."
Many colleges in the nation view course work in arts as a valuable
experience that broadens students understanding and appreciation of the
world around them. The arts in many circles are recognized as a
significant contribution to a child's intellectual development, and
building a strong foundation of high level classes and variety will better
prepare students for college admission. For example, the California State
University system requires one unit in visual or performing arts and Ohio
state-funded universities require a credit in the arts for unconditional
"Advocacy goals are not limited to this model," said Hawk. "Members and
state associations have been getting assorted materials related to Goals
2000, technology, and research grants for 3 years. Art is now in the
national goals; we have student learning standards and frameworks in most
states; and there is substantial funding to help schools implement
programs. But we still have serious deficiencies throughout the nation."
"What is needed now is for individuals and state associations to get busy
with their responsibility of advocating substantive arts education policy
in the states and local schools. The Florida model serves as an exemplary
example that it can be done! "
For more information on advocacy initiatives in your state contact your
state association president and board of directors.
The National Art Education Association is the nation's largest professional
art education association and a leader in educational research, policy, and
practice for art education. NAEA's mission is to advance art education
through professional development, service, advancement of knowledge, and
Membership includes elementary and secondary art teachers, artists,
administrators, museum educators, arts council staff, and university
professors from throughout the United States and several foreign countries.
It also includes publishers, manufacturers and suppliers of art materials,
parents, students, retired art educators, and others concerned about
quality art education in our schools.