CHANGE THE LANGUAGE
We often hear arts courses called “specials,” “resources,” or “electives” but the arts are CORE classes.
Arts credits are required to graduate and arts classes are required by law.
It is important that administrators, educators, and families use terminology that appropriately acknowledges that the arts are required.
By using language that diminishes the importance of arts education, we continue a culture that undervalues the arts as an essential component to human development, which is the status quo in many places.
We must be intentional about changing that culture through the language that educators, administrators, and families all use.
ARTS CLASSES = CORE CLASSES
ARTS EDUCATION IS A CIVIL RIGHT FOR MARYLAND PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS!
Arts education is required by law!
The Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR 13A.04.16) requires that school systems provide their students with classes and experiences in Dance, Media Arts, Music, Theatre, and Visual Arts.
Arts education is essential!
Students need the arts as part of a well-rounded education! Arts education develops creative problem-solving, critical thinking, language skills, and contributes to Social Emotional Learning (SEL). Students who participate in the arts have higher retention rates and perform higher academically.
Arts education is beneficial!
The arts contribute to students’ mental health and wellbeing (this is true for adults, too!). The arts offer students to find creative ways to express themselves, process their experiences, and take action to challenge injustice. In the face of trauma, the arts help us heal.
HOW THE BLUEPRINT BENEFITS
BLUEPRINT FOR MARYLAND'S FUTURE
High-Quality & Diverse Teachers & Leaders
College and Career Readiness
More Resources for Students to be Successful
PILLAR 3 GOAL
To “[create] a world class instructional system aligned with college and career readiness (CCR) standards and post-CCR pathways, including Career and Technical Education (CTE)”
WHAT IS CCR?
Once created, CCR will be “an internationally benchmarked curriculum that enables students to achieve “college- and career-ready” status by the end of grade 10 and no later than grade 12 and then pursue pathways that include IB, AP, or Cambridge diploma programs, early college, and/or a rigorous technical education leading to industry-recognized credentials and high-paying jobs.”
WHAT IS CTE?
Career and Technical Education tracks already exist for a number of trade-based and credential-based professions (culinary arts, hairdressing, electricians, etc.). The Blueprint aspires to expand the scope and offerings of CTE so that it is “a rigorous CTE system as the primary industry-recognized credential that produces graduates ready and qualified to work within in-demand fields that will propel Maryland’s economic future.”
WHAT IS THE IMPACT FOR ARTS EDUCATION
The heavy emphasis on math and ELA in Pillar 3 poses risks for arts education to become further marginalized, especially through scheduling changes. Some administrators and school/district leaders may feel pressure to focus on these new requirements to the detriment of robust arts education.
However, the Blueprint’s implementation plan actually protects against this! Arts education advocates should be be armed with the knowledge that.
The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future and the updated CCR standard are not intended to alter the need for high quality programs and content in fine arts, civics, physical education, and other areas that are necessary to provide a holistic education and enable every student to be well-rounded and meet the CCR standard. (Blueprint Final Implementation Plan 3.1.1(b))
Pillar 3 Potential for the Arts
There may be further potential to support arts instruction in Pillar 3 in the form of specific arts-related CCR pathways and the development of arts CTE tracks. This will require advocacy and pressure from organizations, parents and families, educators, and administrators to ensure this potential is meaningfully realized.
The Arts Beyond Careers
Even as the CCR pathways and CTE programs develop, advocates should remember that all students deserve and need to experience the arts. The heavy emphasis on career-planning for students in Pillar 3 presents some exciting opportunities to create greater structure around students who want to pursue careers in the arts, but students who have no intention of pursuing a career in the arts also deserve a robust arts education. CCR and CTE may develop career pathways, but the arts are what make us human.
Students may need to alter their schedules and/or skip a year of arts instruction in order to fulfill CCR requirements
by 10th grade.
Myth Buster #1:
According to the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Comprehensive Implementation plan, “The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future and the updated CCR standard are not intended to alter the need for high quality programs and content in fine arts, civics, physical education, and other areas that are necessary to provide a holistic education and enable every student to be well-rounded and meet the CCR standard.”
The Code of Maryland Regulations requires that schools “Provide an instructional program that enables all students in grades 9-12 to meet graduation requirements, and to select from among fine arts elective courses of dance, media arts, music, theatre, and visual art that will prepare them for post-secondary education and careers.” (COMAR 13a.04.16.01.A2). In order for students to be prepared for post-secondary education and careers and in the arts, they must be able to enroll in the arts discipline of their choice every year of high school with increasing depth of study.
With so many new requirements,
there isn’t enough funding to support sequential or robust arts staffing.
Myth Buster #2:
According to the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Comprehensive Implementation Plan, “Blueprint law specifically authorizes the use of Foundation formula funds and Concentration of Poverty grant funds (through FY 27) for LEAs to meet the requirements of Code of Maryland Regulations: Title 13A, Subtitle 04, SPECIFIC SUBJECTS, including 13A.04.16.01, which includes the arts.” Arts staffing is supported through foundation formula funds, and additional wraparound arts services such as after school programs and teaching artist residencies can be supported in community schools with concentration of poverty grants.