The Mt. Diablo Unified School District’s (MDUSD) new Visual and Performing Arts Steering Committee is beginning a series of meetings to engage the MDUSD community in planning a framework for sustained growth of visual and performing arts in district schools as part of the District’s core belief that all students in MDUSD deserve a high quality and robust arts education.
The committee was formed in spring 2016 as a leadership and advocacy group composed of District teachers and central office staff focusing on equitable access to high-quality visual and performing arts programs from Transitional Kindergarten (TK) through Grade 12. The committee also includes a student leadership component – Student Leaders Within the Performing Arts. Students will meet throughout the year for special sessions on a variety of arts-related topics. Their first meeting on September 7, featured a motivational speaker talking about student leadership and break outs for students in band, orchestra and vocal music.
“A strong arts education promotes the skills our students need to be successful in school and in life,” said Meyer. “We know from our experiences and from years of research that experiences in the arts have direct connections to positive student outcomes. Arts education levels the playing field among students, regardless of income, race or ethnicity, and other demographics.”
Decades of research compiled by the Arts Education Partnership (AEP), a national network of organizations dedicated to advancing the arts in education, show time and again that students highly involved in the arts outperform students with little or no arts involvement, particularly in school settings. They receive better grades, have more positive attitudes about school, and are less likely to drop out of school. An AEP study also noted that, more importantly, the differences are most significant for economically disadvantaged students.
This year’s National Arts in Education Week will be observed September 11 – 17, as part of House Resolution #275 designating the second week of September as National Arts in Education Week. The resolution expresses congressional support for arts education, stipulating that “arts education, comprising a rich array of disciplines including dance, music, theatre, media arts, literature, design, and visual arts, is a core academic subject and an essential element of a complete and balanced education for all students.”
“Arts education is a priority of the MDUSD as a key tool for developing capacity for creativity, problem solving, collaboration and communication, and leadership,” added Meyer. “More and more, these qualities are essential to being successful in the 21st century workforce.”
California leads the United States in the creative economy with the largest number of creative jobs. Additionally, California has two of the top five regions leading the creative economy; the Los Angeles region and the San Francisco Bay Area. MDUSD visual arts teachers have demonstrated success at preparing students to participate in this flourishing creative economy. Some MDUSD arts alumni are working in California’s creative economy in major companies such as like Laika, FitBit, Playstation, the DeYoung Museum, and Yelp.
“From photography to ceramics, and culinary arts to designing layouts for the yearbook, the courses I took in high school enabled me to think creatively and critically, and were crucial to my decision to study art history and design in college,” said Ryan Printer, an administrator with the Department of Strategic Projects at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and an MDUSD alumnus. “The arts education I received in the Mount Diablo Unified School District inspired me to pursue the career I have today,”
Key to MDUSD’s success is the expertise of the MDUSD visual arts teachers. “Our MDUSD visual arts team includes teachers with multiple degrees in Art and education, several National Board Certified teachers, and many teachers who are also practicing professional artists,” said Meyer.
MDUSD has four approved AP courses of study in the visual arts (AP 2-D, AP Drawing, AP 3-D, and AP Art History) offering students college-level coursework in high school. MDUSD offers numerous CTE courses in arts, media, and entertainment providing students with opportunities to be college and career ready.
MDUSD’s art students were selected by the Bedford Gallery in Walnut Creek to exhibit work from around the district in the Walnut Creek library during April 2017. This exhibition will represent the first district-wide art show in over 10 years. Meadow Homes Elementary has also been chosen as a Turnaround Arts School and recognized by the President’s Committee on Arts and Humanities.
In April 2016, the US Department of Education issued a letter to State Educational agencies and school districts discussing how to maximize Federal funds to support and enhance humanities-based educational strategies under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA.) MDUSD has recently added a specific goal in the 2016 LCAP that targets visual and performing arts (Goal 1.21.)
To learn more check out the following, additional resources:
California’s creative economy: http://www.otis.edu/sites/default/files/2015-CA-Region-Creative-Economy-Report-WEB-FINAL.pdf