New Report Calls for Major Changes in Arts Education at the LAUSD

LOS ANGELES (July 18, 2013) - The Los Angeles Unified School District issued today a 43-page report that calls for a transformation in the teaching of the arts in LAUSD classrooms.

Entitled “The Arts Education and Cultural Network Plan: 2012-2017,” the report, prepared with input from arts educators, providers, and patrons, urges enhanced cooperation between arts educators and generalist classroom teachers to “deliver lessons that use arts integration to connect multiple subjects of the core curriculum.” An example of this would be analyzing dance movements to demonstrate laws of motion in physics.

“Arts education at the LAUSD was decimated during the recent budget crisis,” said Dr. Steven McCarthy, who heads the District’s Arts Education Branch. “But with the passage of Proposition 30 and an improving economy, we are now in position to implement significant changes in the teaching of dance, music, theater, and visual arts to our students.”

The plan recommends the creation of a Certificate of Arts Integration, attached to existing teaching credentials, which will acknowledge a “special skill.” The premise of this District plan is that arts integration will be an expression of, not a substitute for, sequential comprehensive curriculum and instruction in dance, music, theatre and visual arts.

The report emphasizes that the arts does well at forging connections. They can and should be taught in ways that connect them to each other and to other subjects. Students become empowered to inter-relate learning in multiple subjects, which fosters relevancy, creativity, and critical thinking.

The new arts plan kicked off this summer with two, four-day arts integration professional development sessions taught by four LAUSD Arts Education Branch master teachers, designed for both credentialed non-arts teachers and arts teachers to work collaboratively. Each group spent an entire day learning foundational concepts and integration in each of the four arts disciplines.

The session reached over 200 teachers from grades K-12 in all subject areas. There is a waiting list for the next session, to be conducted in the fall.

Dr. McCarthy noted that the report proposes several collaborative projects with outside partners. “Los Angeles is one of the most arts-rich cities in the world,” he explained. “It’s only natural for the District to seek and expand productive relationships with the extraordinary arts providers based here.”

As an example, an approach will be made to the entertainment industry and film schools to produce a series of arts education lessons that students and teachers can access via computer.

The plan was prompted by the LAUSD Board of Education’s approval last October of a resolution entitled “Supporting Educational Equity, Student Achievement and Mastery of 21st Century Skills through Arts at the Core.” The resolution was sponsored by then-Board Member Nury Martinez.

Click to see the entire report.

Contact: Tom Waldman (213) 241-6766