George Lucas Educational Foundation

The Coming Tsunami

The Coming Tsunami

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I just attended the annual conference of the NAEA (National Art Education Association) in Baltimore. Despite the dire economy the convention was attended by 4,000 art teachers! They have passion and energy, but they don't have a way to convince decision-makers and the general public how critically important high quality arts education is for our kids and for our country's future. Many spoke of draconian cuts that will most likely be implemented by this fall either severely reducing programs and staff or in some cases eliminating them completely. We need a national campaign that opens the public's eyes and hearts to the need for save arts in our schools!

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@creativityassoc's picture
Director, Education Division, Creativity & Associates

I have found that local boards of education are responsive to people who show up to meetings. That is what it's going to take, really, district by district, board meeting by board meeting. Somehow the arts need to be part of the required curriculum. If you can get parents, students and arts specialists to attend board meetings and make statements about the benefits of arts education, it makes a difference. It especially makes a difference when you bring kids who can speak well about how their lives are made better through the arts. A national dialogue won't save jobs in individual school districts, but it can help us come up with our talking points so that the statements are compelling.

Tina Montemer's picture
Tina Montemer
Program Specialist/Long Beach Unified School District

You may want to check out "Americans for the Arts" - their website is
I just attend their Arts Advocacy Day 2010 in Washington D.C. last week. We learned about the current issues that are affecting Arts funding and had visits with our Senators and Congresspeople to solicit their support for the Arts and Arts Education. There were 500 grassroots advocates in attendance...a very worthwhile effort to 'educate' the policymakers on Capitol Hill!

Check this out for ways to get involved with the national efforts:

Christine Termini Passarella's picture
Christine Termini Passarella
Founder of The Kids for Coltrane Project in Education

Hi all...I experienced incredible PD at Harvard University with seminars given by Lois Hetland and Ellen Winner. I just learned that they will be part of a conference that may interest this community. It will be at the Guggenheim Museum in June. See details below from an email I received.

A Conference for Educators

Thursday, June 3, 9 am-5:30 pm
Friday, June 4, 9 am-1 pm
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York City

What does it mean to think like an artist? What can educators learn from the work of artists?
Join art and museum educators, administrators, and policy makers from across the country in a two-day forum to discuss the role of creativity in the art classroom and in the field of education as a whole. Through artist talks, panel presentations, hands-on art making, and group discussion, participants consider the characteristics of creativity across disciplines and identify best practices for fostering creativity in the classroom.

Thinking Like an Artist will feature the following speakers:

Janine Antoni, contemporary artist
Lois Hetland and Ellen Winner, research associates at Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Ellen Lupton, curator of contemporary design at Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum
Jerry Saltz, senior art critic for New York Magazine
Other renowned practitioners and researchers in the fields of art, education, and creativity
The conference also highlights the findings of The Art of Problem Solving, a four-year research program recently completed by the Guggenheim Museum. This initiative sought to identify skills associated with problem solving and determine how art educators can encourage the development of these skills in their students.

Conference registration is $150. For more information and to register online, visit

This research and conference are sponsored by the United States Department of Education.

Lee Barrios's picture

This new "Education Reform" movement is going to leave the arts in the wake of its tsunami. As Vice President of the St. Tammany Association for Gifted/Talented Education, we just barely won a fight to retained the incredible services we offer to gifted/talented students in this state (yeah I know, it's Louisiana). Why? Because our State Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek and several of his Board of Elementary and Secondary Education appointees are hell-bent on winning Race to the Top funding that will justify the private takeover of public schools to line the pockets of investors who realize there is big money in education. In the process they have hooked up with politicians (Governor Bobby Jindal in our case) with promises of money and support for their campaigns (in this case future president). In exchange for? - free rein to establish their charters and supply them with software (from their other companies), textbooks (from their other companies (consults) from their other companies. . . . . We first have to win this battle before we can move on to develop what has already been established as part of a fully developed education curriculum - the arts.

Pam Brown's picture
Pam Brown
Elementary visual arts teacher from South Florida

Arne Duncan, state legislators, local school board members all individually profess support for the arts in education. The money is still being cut. Say one thing, do another.

Edith Glavtcheff's picture

If education is not the priority of this country, what will be the future of our children? Music and arts are the stepping stone to a higher level of thinking.

Ron Foote's picture

Daniel Pink's book "A Whole New mind" presents a great case for how important the arts are to the future as most left brained jobs are being outsourced. He also points out that several medical schools are requiring arts classes because they help doctors in diagnosis of illness because the arts opens the whole mind. He is very persuasive regarding the need, especially as the future unfolds, to not only include, but to emphasize Arts education to prepare students for the world they will face as they grow into the future.

Teresa Wiley's picture

The story is the same in Indiana, just change the names of the politicians and the companies waiting in the wings to take over public education. We must protect what we have, public education is the true soul of our country.

Thom Carter's picture

Pink's "A Whole New Mind" is a fabulous advocacy tool. I gave it to my superintendent who then gave copies to the school board. I also gave a copy to each principal in the district.

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