The board of the Los Angeles Unified School District is giving arts education the emphasis it deserves. In a bold and necessary move, L.A.’s school board members unanimously voted in favor of restoring the arts to their rightful place as a critical “core” subject. According to Steven McCarthy, senior arts coordinator at Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), elevating the arts to a “core” subject will enable the arts to “be seen as important as social studies, science, math, and language arts.” We applaud board member Nury Martinez, the author of the arts resolution, and her colleagues for preventing the arts from falling victim to budget cuts and working with Superintendent John Deasy to refocus the district on this often neglected subject.
This move to revitalize arts education is deeply consistent with the expectations of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and demonstrates LAUSD’s profound commitment to implementing the new standards to a high degree of faithfulness. In fact, the importance of arts education has become one of the central themes surrounding the CCSS. In a recent blog salon hosted by Americans for the Arts, fifteen arts and education leaders, including Common Core’s Lynne Munson, contributed blogs surrounding the intersection of the arts and the CCSS. In a compelling finale piece, David Coleman, an architect of the CCSS in ELA, commented, “I am so glad that the arts community has gotten the message that the arts have a central and essential role in achieving the finest aspects of the common core.” Common Core is thrilled to see L.A.’s K-12 community converting this message into action.
Elevating the arts is critical to the discussion of CCSS implementation particularly in light of California Governor Jerry Brown’s agenda to strip education of a commitment core subjects. In fact, this resolution comes as a direct rejection of Governor’s Brown’s persistent agenda—to which Common Core is actively protested—to reduce or even eliminate high graduation requirements in critical core subjects including the arts, foreign languages, and sciences. In fact, Brown signed a devastating bill in October 2011 that eliminated the requirement for all students to take either a foreign language or arts course to graduate.
We certainly hope that districts throughout California and the country will follow LAUSD’s lead in ramping up arts education and will look to this resolution as a shining model for how the core subject should be emphasized in K-12 education. Implementing the CCSS presents a wonderful opportunity to use the arts to deepen the teaching of other core subjects, in addition to teaching the arts for their own sake. As you know, Common Core has extensively demonstrated, in the 179 arts activities that are imbedded in our CCSS-based Curriculum Maps in ELA, the central role the arts can play in the ELA curriculum. We are happy to find an arts ally in LAUSD.
Lynne Munson and Hillary Marder