ABOUT US

 
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VISION

We envision a public education system in Maryland that supports, cultivates, nurtures, and uplifts ALL students’ creativity through a robust arts education experience so that they can thrive in a healthy society.

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MISSION

AEMS is committed to ensuring that all students in the state of Maryland have access to high quality arts education by mobilizing power to communities through advocacy programs, professional and leadership programs, and resource building and sharing.

CORE VALUES

Racial Equity

We understand the history and impact of educational policies on our most historically resilient communities and we commit to addressing this through our work.

 

Our work is rooted in anti-racism and we believe that arts education can be a tool to create systemic change within education.

Community

We believe that the community is the most important part of our advocacy efforts.

 

We want to illuminate and highlight the power communities have to make systemic changes.

growth

We believe that growth is the most important aspect of learning.

 

We are invested in the growth of our constituents, board, and staff through professional and leadership development.

Creativity

We believe that creativity is critical for humans to thrive. It is what makes humans human.

AEMS  APPROACH

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In Maryland, the arts are core subjects, as stated in the Code of Maryland Annotated Regulations (COMAR), making arts education a right for all students. Arts Education is a Civil and Human Right is the driving force behind our advocacy initiatives. The three main components of arts education being a civil right for us are:

  • Systemic Issues of Arts Education access – What is the root cause of why arts education is pervasive in one county versus another? Around the state, we’re working on statewide policy to understand why this is an issue county by county.

  • Arts are a tool for educational equity – Addressing the arts outside of the arts classroom (arts integration, Arts &…) and understanding how creativity can be used to help students thrive and close the opportunity gap.

  • Equity within Arts Education – Who does and doesn’t have access to the arts on a local level? Why don’t they have access? What can we do to get them access to a high quality arts education across all counties?

 

We know that each of these components require the help of everyone: students, families, teachers, school and district staff and administrators, community members, and policy makers to be able to work collectively to ensure that each of our students have access to arts education.

EQUITY & ANTI-RACISM

How do we define equity?

Equity and equality are not the same. Equality is the outcome and what we strive to achieve one day, meanwhile, equity is the strategy. Equity does not mean ALL. Equity means investing (financially, in-kind, and/or resources) and supporting communities in which we know have had less access to arts education which have historically been Black, Indigenous, Latinx, immigrant, and Asian Communities (BIPOC). AEMS believes in using equitable strategies to strengthen arts education access and quality.

 

Our Foundation

AEMS is striving to be an anti-racist organization and is currently shifting our mindsets from blame, shame, guilt, and grievance to causes, effects, systems, and solutions. We realize once harm is done there is nothing that can immediately fix the situation but there can be continuous work towards regaining trust and collaborating with the communities in which we serve - specifically BIPOC communities. We also acknowledge that this position statement is within itself a characteristic of white supremacy (worship of the written word) and with this statement, we aim to not only write about our position but be transparent about our direction by our actions.

FOUNDING STORY

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In response to growing concern about the diminishing quality and equity of access to arts education in Maryland’s public schools, the Maryland State Arts Council, in partnership with the Maryland State Department of Education, formed Arts Education in Maryland Schools (AEMS) in June 1992.

Several beliefs inspired this effort: the importance of cultural literacy in teaching and learning; the arts’ intrinsic value in childhood development; and the ability to enhance learning and create positive school environments. AEMS incorporated as a 501(c)(3) Maryland non-profit organization in November 1997.