Arts on Line Update November 22, 2010

SPECIAL REQUEST:  Writers Sought for Re-vision of Ohio’s Academic Content Standards in the Fine Arts:

The Ohio Department of Education’s Division of the Arts is seeking fine arts educators from multiple disciplines to begin the process of revising Ohio’s fine arts academic content standards as required by House Bill 1 (128th General Assembly).

Selected K-12 educators in the visual and performing arts – dance, drama/theatre, music and visual art – will review feedback from the recently held focus-group discussions about the current arts standards. These arts educators will form a working group that will prepare revision drafts in the four arts areas for additional feedback and public input.

Working group participants will attend three separate full-day meetings held from December 2010 to June 2011. The first meeting will be Tuesday, December 14, 2010.  Selected participants will be reimbursed for travel to and from the meeting and for substitute teacher costs for the district.

In addition to a solid background in one of the arts areas, applicants should have interest and skill in writing and editing educational material as well as experience in implementing the current arts standards in schools.

The application deadline is Friday, November 26, 2010. Applicants who are selected to participate will receive written notification by December 7, 2010.

For the application and signature form, please visit http://www.ode.state.oh.us and search for keywords: ODE fine arts, or visit

News from the Statehouse: The Ohio House and Senate will not meet this week.  Sessions are scheduled for November 30, 2010 and in December, but might be canceled.

The House Democratic Caucus elected leaders for the 129th General Assembly on November 18, 2010. The Democrats elected current House Speaker Armond Budish minority leader; Representative Matt Szollosi assistant minority leader; Tracy Heard minority whip; and Debbie Phillips assistant minority whip.

House Republican Minority Leader and House Speaker-elect William Batchelder announced last week that Representative Randy Gardner will chair the House Finance and Appropriations Committee Higher Education Subcommittee when the 129th General Assembly convenes in January 2011. He also announced that the number of standing committees in the House will be reduced from 27 to 17.  The following are the House committees recommended for the 129th General Assembly:

  • Agriculture and Natural Resources
  • Commerce and Labor
  • Criminal Justice
  • Economic and Small Business Development
  • Education
  • Finance and Appropriations
  • Primary and Secondary Education Subcommittee
  • Higher Education Subcommittee
  • Transportation Subcommittee
  • Health and Human Services Subcommittee
  • Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee
  • Financial Institutions, Housing and Urban Development
  • Health and Aging
  • Insurance
  • Judiciary and Ethics
  • Local Government
  • Public Utilities
  • Rules and Reference
  • State Government and Elections
  • Transportation, Public Safety and Homeland Security
  • Veteran’s Affairs
  • Ways and Means

The result of one of two contested seats in the November election has been decided. The Hamilton County Board of Elections announced last week that Democrat Connie Pillich is the winner in the 28th House District contest.  This brings the number of House Democrats in the next General Assembly to 40 and the number of Republicans to 58.  The contest for the 99th House District between Representative Deborah Newcomb and Casey Kozlowski is still undecided. There are a total of 99 representatives in the Ohio House.

News from Washington, D.C.:

The U.S. House and Senate re-convened last week to work on pending legislation and select leadership for the 112th Congress, which begins in January 2011.

U.S. House Representative John Boehner was elected House Speaker of the 112th Congress by Republicans on November 17, 2010. The caucus also elected Representative Eric Cantor as Majority Leader; Representative Kevin McCarthy as Republican Whip; and Representative Jeb Hensarling as Republican Conference Chairman.

The Democrats elected current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as Minority Leader; Representative Steny Hoyer Democratic Whip; Representative Xavier Becerra Vice Chairman; and Representative James Clyburn as assistant minority leader.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Senator Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell retained their current leadership positions.

Education Secretary urges schools to refrain from cutting the arts: U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan addressed the American Enterprise Institute Forum on November 17, 2010 and noted that educators in all sectors will be facing the “challenge of doing more with less” for the next several years.  (“The New Normal: Doing More with Less”)  Although school budgets will be a challenge, the Secretary said that educators and policy-makers also have the opportunity to “make dramatic improvements” in productivity through innovation and accelerating progress.

According to the Secretary, the economic challenges that states and schools are facing can lead to productive or unproductive cost-saving strategies.  The unproductive strategies, such as reducing instructional time, eliminating the arts and foreign languages, abandoning promising reforms, and laying off talented, young teachers, can also damage school quality and hurt children.

Instead, he proposed the following: “A different strategy for increasing productivity is to improve efficiency by taking steps like deferring maintenance and construction projects, cutting bus routes, lowering the costs of textbooks and health care, improving energy use and efficiency in school buildings, and reducing central office personnel.”

Reducing waste is also a productive strategy, and includes eliminating unproductive use of time, unproductive use of technology, remedial education, under-used buildings, antiquated teacher compensation systems, inefficient school finance systems, over-placement of students in special education, and some reductions in class size.

Some of the strategies proposed to increase efficiency include early childhood education programs to better prepare students for Kindergarten and eliminate remediation in later grades; technology; online learning; reshaping teacher compensation systems; and increasing graduation rates; etc.

According to Secretary Duncan, “I anticipate that a number of districts may be asked next year to weigh targeted class size increases against the loss of music, arts, and after-school programming. Those tough choices are local decisions. But it important that districts maintain a diverse and rich curriculum–and that they preserve the opportunities that make school exciting, fun, and engage young people in coming to school every day.”

The text of the speech is available here.

States Requesting Special Education Waivers:

According to a report in Education Week on November 15, 2010, several states are requesting waivers from the U.S. Department of Education regarding state spending requirements for special education through the federal “Individuals with Disabilities Act” (IDEA).  Federal law requires states to spend the same level or higher on special education each year or face a penalty.

The law allows states to request a waiver for “unexpected financial hardship” and six states, Alabama, Iowa, Kansas, Oregon, South Carolina, and West Virginia, have submitted waiver requests.  To read more please visit this site.

News from the ODE:

Young writers contest deadline is January 15, 2010: The Ohioana Library Association is accepting submissions from students in grade 9 to 12 for the annual Robert Fox Award for Young Writers. A total of six awards will be presented – three for prose and three for poetry. The association is limiting submissions to a total of three entries per school, and each student may submit only one entry per category.

The awards were established in 2007 and honor writer Robert Fox (1943-2003), who served as the Ohio Arts Council’s first poet-in-the-schools before becoming the Council’s literary coordinator. The deadline for entries is January 15. 2011.  Awards will be presented during the Ohioana Book Festival on May 7, 2011. For more information and a contest entry, please visit this site.

Model Curriculum Survey:  The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) now has on its web site a survey about the draft model curricula text in English language arts, mathematics, science and social studies, and is urging educators preK through higher education to provide feedback through an online survey.

The goal for the model curricula is to guide teachers in developing lessons aligned with the newly revised content standards in science and social studies as well as the Common Core State Standards in mathematics and English language arts.

The survey will take 20 to 30 minutes to complete.  Each participant will be asked to select a single grade, grade band, or course within a content area, and then answer questions about a particular section related to the selected focus area. Participants will be asked if the model curricula’s organization and its components are clear, relevant, and appropriate for the selected grade level. The survey also is designed to determine whether the content elaborations presented provide teachers with sufficient background for designing lessons that are well-suited for effective differentiated instruction.

The ODE has included on its web site the revised standards, information comparing the revised and existing (2002) standards, and the model curriculum draft for the selected content areas and grade levels, and recommends that those who intend to complete the survey review these materials prior to participating in the survey. The materials are posted online by content area: English language arts; Mathematics; Science; and Social Studies.

ODE will make revisions to the model based on the survey results.  The final model curricula will be within an interactive, Web-based tool.

The State Board of Education is required to adopt the model curriculum in March 2011 and the related web site is expected to be completed during the 2011-2012 school year.

The survey is available here.

NEPC Reviews Study on Arizona Scholarships: The National Education Policy Center’s (NEPC) ‘Think Twice’ Think Tank Review Project, released on November 18, 2010 a review by Casey D. Cobb (University of Connecticut) of a study entitled “An Analysis of Arizona Individual Income Tax-credit Scholarship Recipients’ Family Income, 2009-2010 School Year” by Vickie E. Murray.  The analysis was published by the Harvard University Program on Education Policy and Governance (PEPG).

The Think Twice review finds that the analysis of the Arizona tax credit program by Murray “…uses sound and reasonable methods and offers useful information”, but notes the limitations in the data and the report’s overstated claims.

The review also notes that this analysis of income levels of scholarship recipients might have an impact on a case before the U.S. Supreme Court, Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization, Petitioner v. Kathleen M. Winn, et al, which challenges the constitutionality of the Arizona tuition tax credit program. The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case on November 3, 2010.

The Arizona tuition-tax credit program was established by the Arizona legislature in 1998. It allows state taxpayers to receive dollar-for-dollar tax credits (up to $500) by making donations to School Tuition Organizations (STOs). The STOs provide scholarships for students to attend private schools, most of which are religiously affiliated.

The initial intent of the law was to help low-income students attend private schools, but the law did not require STOs to consider student financial need when issuing a scholarship.

Two Arizona newspapers, the Arizona Republic and the East Valley Tribune, published in 2009 a series of articles that questioned the scholarship program’s success at increasing access of low-income students to private schools. As a result the law was recently amended, and so starting in January 2011 STOs must consider financial need when awarding the scholarships, and report the percent of scholarships they provide to low-income students.

The analysis of income level of recipients of the scholarships conducted by Murray refutes the newspaper articles by showing that the scholarship recipients had a median family income of about $5000 less than the statewide median income. The analysis was based on a survey of 15 of 51 STOs, and covered 79.4 percent of scholarships awarded in 2009.

However, in his review of the Murray analysis, Casey Cobb finds that the STO survey sample was not random, which could lead to bias, and the survey did not link the amount of the scholarship awarded to family income levels, making it impossible to know whether or not the “dollar value of scholarship awards to lower-income families was systemically greater or lesser than that of awards to higher-income families.”  The NEPC review is available here.

The analysis entitled “An Analysis of Arizona Individual Income Tax-credit Scholarship Recipients’ Family Income, 2009-2010 School Year”

by Vickie E. Murray is available here.

Foundation Giving Might Show Modest Growth:

The Foundation Center, Steven Lawrence director of research, released on November 18, 2010 an advisory concerning the results of its September 2010 “Foundation Giving Forecast Survey”. According to the survey, U.S. foundations are expected to increase grants in 2011 after remaining flat in 2010, and it might take several years before grants are back to 2008 levels. Twelve percent of survey respondents expect operational changes, such as cuts in staffing, travel, or cuts in operating expenses, to remain in place for a longer time, and forty percent of respondents have made some type of modification to their grant making priorities as a result of the economic crisis. Participating in the survey were 719 large, mid-size, independent, corporate, and community foundations.

The Foundation Center was established in 1956 and is the leading source of information about philanthropy worldwide. The Center maintains the most comprehensive database on U.S. and global grant makers and their grants, and operates research, education, and training programs designed to advance knowledge of philanthropy. The Foundation Center also provides a variety of resources on its web site to help nonprofits and foundations. For more information about the survey results and the Foundation Center please visit this site.

Improving Teacher Preparation:  The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), James G. Cibulka president, released on November 16, 2010 a report entitled “Transforming Teacher Education through Clinical Practice: A National Strategy to Prepare Effective Teachers.”

The report recommends that teacher preparation programs be radically changed by placing more emphasis on classroom practice and making teacher education a shared responsibility between P-12 schools and higher education. The report was prepared by the Blue Ribbon Panel on Clinical Preparation and Partnerships for Improved Student Learning, convened by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

Several states including California, Colorado, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Oregon and Tennessee, have already agreed to implement the recommendations in their states.

According to the press release, the panel recommends the following to improve how the nation “…delivers, monitors, evaluates, oversees, and staffs preparation to incubate a whole new form of teacher education”:

Focus on developing teaching practices and P-12 student learning by making clinical practice of teacher preparation programs the centerpiece of the curriculum, and interweaving opportunities for teaching experience with academic content and professional courses.

Encourage higher education and school districts to share accountability and responsibilities for teacher preparation, and encourage P-12 schools to play a more significant role in designing preparation programs, selecting candidates, assessing candidate performance and progress, and placing them in clinical experiences.

Attract more academically prepared and more diverse cohorts of students.

Shift the reward structure in academe and P-12 schools’ staffing models to value learning to teach, and support placing clinical practice at the center of teacher preparation.

Strengthen the scrutiny of state and accreditation agencies and make teacher preparation programs more accountable for meeting school needs and improving P-12 student learning.

Encourage states to create disincentives for schools of education to prepare teachers in specialties that are not in demand, so that there are teachers prepared to fill the staffing needs of P-12 schools.

Encourage federal agencies to support a clearly defined research agenda to document and provide evidence of the impact of practices in clinical preparation on teacher effectiveness.

The report is available here.

FYI ARTS

Washington State Increases Graduation Requirements in the Arts: The Washington State Board of Education adopted on November 10, 2010 the Washington State Graduation Requirements (WSGRs), which incorporate two arts credits in the state’s graduation requirements for most students. (Some students will have some other options regarding the second arts credit.)

According to AnnRen Joseph, Arts Program Supervisor at OSPI, “in its adoption of the new graduation requirements, the State Board of Education has demonstrated its strong vision for a complete education for all learners in our state. Washington is now the first state in the nation to require two credits in the arts as part of high school graduation requirements.  The inclusion of these credits provides increased opportunity for exposure to arts programs in our public schools, which are critical in fostering student creativity and innovation. As we applaud the Board, we also extend our appreciation to arts partners throughout the state who advocated for the arts and helped make these requirements a reality.  We offer a special thank you to ArtsEd Washington, the Washington State Arts Commission, and the Washington State Arts Alliance for their collaboration throughout the process. We are all ready and looking forward to the opportunity to offer more arts and rich school experience to all students.”

Arts education advocates now must secure funding for the new requirements through the Washington state legislature, where legislation is expected to be introduced next year.  The new requirements will be phased-in for the graduating class of 2016, if the legislature approves the necessary funds.

For more information please click here.

WOW!! There were several articles on the arts noted last week, and NPR’s Science Friday with Ira Flatow (November 19, 2010) had a segment entitled “How Music Works” with Dr. John Powell, who spoke about his new book, “How Music Works: The Science and Psychology of Beautiful Sounds, from Beethoven to the Beatles and Beyond.”  To listen to this segment, please visit NPR – Science Friday at http://sciencefriday.com/. Related books for this segment include “Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain” by Oliver Sacks and “This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession” by Daniel J. Levitin.

The following are summaries of several arts-related articles available last week:

How music changes the mind: The November 2010 issue of Scientific American (October 26, 2010) has an editorial entitled “Hearing the Music, Honing the Mind:  Music produces profound and lasting changes in the brain.  Schools should add classes not cut them.”

The article describes the research that neuroscientists have conducted on the effects of “concerted study and practice of music” on the brain.  Researchers have found, for example, that taking music lessons can “….produce profound and lasting changes that enhance the general ability to learn.”  The authors note that, “These results should disabuse public officials of the idea that music classes are a mere frill, ripe for discarding in the budget crises that constantly beset public schools.”

For example, researchers have found that training in instrumental music can help the brain process sounds better, which helps students increase attentiveness, stay focused in other subjects, improve recall and memory, learn new languages, improve speech comprehension, etc.

The editors note that, “The main reason for playing an instrument, of course, will always be the sheer joy of blowing a horn or banging out chords.” However, policy makers should understand the research about music’s beneficial effect on the developing brain, and ensure that music is included in the curriculum.

The article is available here.

Do musicians have different brains: The June 11, 2010 “Eyes on the Brain” blog by Susan R. Barry, Ph.D. for Psychology Today includes an article entitled “Do musicians have different brains? Does musical training reorganize the brain?  What are the implications?

The article describes what researchers have found when they have studied the effects of music on the brain.  Neuroscientists can identify the brain of a professional musician compared to other individuals, because of the changes that take place in the brain as a result of extensive musical training.  The changes include increased verbal memory and a reorganization of the brain.

According to the article, “Areas that are initially devoted to one type of function (vision), may be recruited to perform another (verbal memory). This reorganization may take place following the learning of a very demanding set of skills. Piano playing, which requires competence in many areas, i.e. hearing pitches, sensing rhythms, reading music, and hand coordination, is an example of such a challenging task.”

This information is now being used to help people who have suffered brain injuries such as strokes re-organize their brains and learn to use undamaged areas to perform tasks once under the control of an injured part of the brain.

The article is available here.

How dance is being used to teach academic subjects:  The November 16, 2010 edition of Education Week includes an article entitled “Schools Integrate Dance Into Core Academics” by Erick W. Robelen.

The article describes how schools across the nation are increasingly integrating dance and the arts into the curriculum.  For example, a program called “Teaching Science with Dance in Mind”, Rima Faber director, at the Fort Garrison Elementary School in Maryland, is being used to integrate the learning objectives of dance and science.  Teachers are provided professional development and support through a grant to develop lesson that “bring deeper and complex learning to children”.

The article also provides an overview of dance education and arts integrated in the U.S. and notes the gains that dance education is making as an art form in schools. A 2003 study of a program called “Basic Reading Through Dance” in the Chicago public schools found positive results in reading for participating students compared to students not in the program. Another arts integration project, the “Arts Infusion Project” in the Washoe County school district in Nevada, will serve 63,000 students and is supported by a grant from the U.S. DOE.

According to the article, arts educators must help other educators understand how the arts can help support student learning in all content areas.

The article is available here.

Music and Creativity: The November 15, 2010 Edutopia blog, “Using music in the Classroom to Inspire Creative Expression” by Gaetan Pappalordo, suggests that music is a way to bring “passion” back into the classroom, and helps students visualize and dream “big”.  The blog provides some “tips” for making the most of music in lessons, such as using a variety of instrumental musical pieces (oldies and new songs) in classroom lessons so that students are not distracted by lyrics or “turned-off” by certain kinds of music.

To read the blog please visit this site.

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About OAAE

Since our founding in 1974, by Dr. Dick Shoup and Jerry Tollifson, our mission has always been to ensure the arts are an integral part of the education of every Ohioan. Working at the local, state, and federal levels through the efforts of a highly qualified and elected Board of Directors, our members, and a professional staff we have four primary areas of focus: building collaborations, professional development, advocacy, and capacity building. The OAAE is funded in part for its day-to-day operation by the Ohio Arts Council. This support makes it possible for the OAAE to operate its office in Columbus and to work statewide to ensure the arts are an integral part of the education of every Ohioan. Support for arts education projects comes from the Ohio Arts Council, Ohio Music Education Association, Ohio Art Education Association, Ohio Educational Theatre Association, VSA Ohio, and OhioDance. The Community Arts Education programs of Central Ohio are financially assisted by the Franklin County Board of Commissioners and the Greater Columbus Arts Council. We gratefully acknowledge and appreciate the financial support received from each of these outstanding agencies and organizations.
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