Wednesday, July 7, 2010

NBI 86--Adopted at the 2010 NEA RA

SPEECHES FROM Tom McLaughlin & John Kovalchik are included in this post.  Speeches from other speakers are pending arrival of those written scripts.

Italicized portions of this script were cut as we were alloted only 3 minutes.

Were not spoken as time ran out.

Good afternoon President Van Roekel my name is Tom McLaughlin, newly elected chair of the NEA Fine Arts Caucus and a delegate from Iowa speaking for the delegation.  I move NBI 86A as modified.   You have the new language and according to NEA management the cost has been drastically changed from $43,500.00 to $2,490.00.

At last year’s RA, the Fine Arts caucus passed a new business item that called for an e-survey to be done by NEA Research studying “the changes in staffing, work conditions, and budgetary considerations for fine arts programs in the US over the last three years.

Our NBI also asked that this information be published so that arts educators and advocates can study what we already anecdotally know about arts education in the US—in the current economic climate, arts programs are being decimated, teaching positions are disproportionally disappearing and student opportunities are being severely limited or totally eliminated.

Last year's e-survey results came to the Fine Arts Caucus at this RA just a few days ago.  The results, however, were not published for our members and colleagues to use in designing strategies and interventions to save arts programs in our schools. And the survey was done before the drastic educational job cuts from this spring.

Our students make it clear that they want and value arts education more than many of our school districts do. In a recent Scholastic poll asking students whether schools should be required to offer the arts in schools: 93% of the elementary respondants--nearly 20,000 of them said YES. But anecdotally we have heard about an English colleague who got a new classroom (an empty band room) and where are the instruments? Gathering dust in locked closets not in the hands of our children. We have heard about the total elimination of all art and music programs in a slash a burn manner. Now is the time for advocacy. The Goals 2000: Educate America Act and ESEA call the arts an essential part of the core curriculum.

Just a few weeks ago the front page of the Des Moines Register let us know that nearly 1/3 of the teaching jobs that were being cut were art and music teachers. Think about the impact of that to teachers in K-5 situations who many times rely on specials for spotty bits of planning time. Think about the members that we are losing, the dues dollars that are disappearing for our state and our nationa organization. But, most importantly, think about what we are stealing from our students. And when we steal from this from them, what do we lose?

Here’s some of what we lose:
Kids who have an arts education for more than three hours a week are four times more likely to win an award for academic achievement. They are three times more likely to be elected to class office. They are four times more likely to participate in a math or science fair. The are three times more likely to win an award for attendance and four times more likely to win an award for writing. Involvement in the arts increases academic success in all socio-economic groups.

The arts also stimulates and develops the imagination and critical thinking, and refines cognitive and creative skills.  Arts education has a tremendous impact on the developmental growth of every child and has proven to help level the "learning field" across socio-economic boundaries.

Strengthens problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, adding to overall academic achievement and school success.
Studying the arts develops a sense of craftsmanship, quality task performance, and goal-setting—skills needed to succeed in the classroom and beyond.

Arts education programs teach children life skills such as developing an informed perception; articulating a vision; learning to solve problems and make decisions; building self-confidence and self-discipline; developing the ability to imagine what might be; and accepting responsibility to complete tasks from start to finish.

They also nurtures important values, including team-building skills; respecting alternative viewpoints.

Arts education is also vital to the success of our nation's economy.  The US Department of labor says that by 2018 there will 2 million jobs that require a background in the arts. It’s our economy. Every year the non profit arts community generates 166.2 billion dollars.

Ninety four percent of adults surveyed believe in the value of arts education but only less than 30% of our elementary students have more than 3 or 4 times a week. 40% of elementary schools don’t even have an art teacher.

This year the Fine Arts Caucus is asking for our colleagues to join us again in creating an e-Fine Arts Task Force that is charged to design--with the NEA staff liaison—an arts advocacy program to be communicated to our members in the NEA Today and other appropriate e-publications. External advocacy tools that can be shared with state and local leaders are a necessary result of this task force. The Fine Arts Caucus, its officers and steering committee are interested in being part of this task force and this discussion. We need our colleagues to help us advocate for the arts.

John Adams once said, “I must study politics and war, that my children may study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, (dance and drama).”

Please join us in allowing members of the Fine Arts Caucus and others in creating an e-Fine Arts Task Force to save arts programs in our nations schools for our nations children.


I am John Kovalchik from Pennsylvania, speaking in favor of New Business Item #86.

The fine arts caucus believes this item to be a relatively inexpensive way to draw attention to the parts of a well-rounded education that were left behind after the passage of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act formerly known as “No Child Left Behind”. I think the fine arts might have been left behind because there are no standardized tests for them. This NBI will also complete what was started by last year’s NBI #52 that requested that a survey be taken to assess the condition of arts education. A survey was taken, but not yet published.

The fine arts caucus is turning hope into action with the help of NEA by establishing a permanent liaison between the NEA executive board and the fine arts caucus. NBI #86 will help our caucus to work more efficiently. This item also will help us to fight for a segment of our association that is suffering an inordinate number of cuts in program and staff.

We ask your help and support for reminding legislators and the public that a student’s education is more than just reading, science and math, as at least one legislator in Pennsylvania would have you believe. State Senator Jeff Picola’s proposed changes to Pennsylvania’s Educational Empowerment Act would force any school to limit their curricula to those three subjects, reading, science and math.

In April Sec. of Education Arne Duncan spoke at an Arts Education National forum and stated, “Now, as we move forward with reauthorizing the ESEA Act, is the time to rethink and strengthen arts education”. Please help us put these words into action. Please support new business item 86 and prove that a child is more than a test score.

Thank you.

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