Arts education has transformed online due to the pandemic! Last Wednesday, was the Arts for LA Voting for the Arts: Advocating for Arts Ed in Crisis online training. Topics highlighted how arts education is essential, supporting students in remote learning, educational program examples, school-to-prison pipeline, and advocacy actions. As an educator, I seek information to assist with this transition. How can we advocate in this new reality?
From Arts for LA: “Want to be a more informed Arts Voter? This short online training will introduce arts advocates to the issues appearing on the ballot in November 2020 most likely to impact the creative sector and movement for equitable arts education. The online workshop will cover the basics of advocating for ballot measures in your community, as well as concrete tools & strategies for taking action to ensure your local candidates are committed arts ed champions. Online trainings are suitable for all stakeholders – students, educators, artists, producers, community members, activists.”
Cordelia Istel (Arts For LA Director of Organizing) brilliantly facilitated the discussion by sharing distance learning information, budget timeline, and district priorities. Presenters were Bob Morrison (Quadrant Research), Jeannine Flores (LA County Office of Education), Heather Moses (Culver City Unified School District), Elida Ledesma (Arts for Incarcerated Youth Network), and Justus Jones (Arts for Incarcerated Youth Network).
Bob Morrison discussed how the arts consistently support student’s social and emotional needs. In addition, the arts spark interest and self-reflection. From presentation: “The relevant question is not if an arts practice will affect a social-emotional competency, but how it will happen and what arts educators can do to improve the odds that the impact is positive.”
Elida Ledesma and Justus Jones from Arts for Incarcerated Youth Network spoke to disrupting and dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline: “The system(s) wherein children are funneled out of public schools and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems.” Three key factors include lack of public school resources, zero tolerance policies, and increased police reliance. Elida Ledesma identified how “art helps to decolonize systems of oppression.” While Justus Jones shared that “art can help build families…and art has saved my life.”
Equity remains as an ongoing challenge. Cordelia Istel: “What can you do today to support arts education?” For successful outcomes, students need free and reliable internet access along with user-friendly platforms to build community. Education and safety need to be a top priority not an afterthought!