I have been following the thread about the diminished use of this list serve, and I thought I would throw in my two cents worth. I have been a long time member of this group, and have contributed several ideas, opinions and advice over the years. I am retired now, but still maintain an interest in the issues facing teachers in the arts. While many consider political comments taboo on this list, I am of the opinion that perhaps, in addition to offering each other advice and support, that this is the exact forum to discuss the real life challenges facing our profession. I don't think we can afford to ignore the crushing blows to art education and education in general that are occurring on almost a daily basis in our country. Teacher's rights to bargain contracts, tenure, budgets, and financing are all under attack, and effect each and every art teacher on this list in some way. How can you as a teacher of art be fairly evaluated by an
administrator who has little or no knowledge of what you actually do for a living? Legislatures want your salary tied to classroom test scores--really? How does anyone in the arts survive when many don't test at all or there is no adequate standardized testing in your field? Is that what you want your studio art classes to become, a place where you spend the majority of your time teaching to a test? The answer should be obvious--you probably won't survive for long without some kind of political action. When the arts are at the whim of increasingly hostile state legislatures, governors, school boards and desperate administrations, it is amazing there are any art teachers out there left to participate in an art teachers forum at all!
I learned a lot of things in my many years as an art teacher, and among them was to become a leader in every sense of the word. All of us need to become advocates of our profession and our students, and if that means becoming political, then you may have to leave your comfort level and do just that. No one, and I mean no one, will advocate on your behalf if you don't start with yourself. If you can't show passion and dedication to what you do for kids every day, don't expect others to step up to the plate for you-- it simply won't happen. Perhaps it's time to turn a new page with this forum, and teach our colleagues the fine art of advocacy.