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The Art of Speaking Up for Every Child

Sep 27, 2017, 10:52 AM

Co-authored by Ethan Clark.

Roses are red. Violets are blue. Students love art and you should too! How would you express your feelings about arts education in your school community? Take a moment and write your thoughts on why the arts are important for your child’s education. Bonus points if it rhymes!

Does your poem resonate with the following key facts about arts in education?

  1. Participation in the arts through programs like PTA’s Reflections develops the whole child. Through movement, social interactions, emotional expression and application of skill, arts education provides an academic advantage to students. The arts provide safe learning environments where students take risks, explore ideas, express their individuality and support their peers in a positive way. Studies also find that students are more engaged and teachers are more effective in arts-rich schools.
  2. PTA’s Reflections program can level the playing field for underserved students. Studies find that students from low socioeconomic backgrounds, English language learners, and students with special needs—often underserved in public schools—show the greatest relative improvement in academic achievement when participating in arts programs such as PTA Reflections.
  3. Participation in the arts connects families and schools to one another and to their communities. Research shows a significant relationship between arts education, family engagement, and community participation. Students who study the arts develop a sense of personal responsibility toward their communities and have the ability to positively affect the community social life through their artwork. Insert a sentence about the way Reflections accomplishes that.

It’s important to let your school leaders know how you feel about arts in education! Share your perspective with school leaders so that they understand why you feel your child needs opportunity for arts learning.

For an inspirational look at education through the eyes of a child, take a look at That Kind of Teacher, a national award winning poem by Reflections participant Jared Weiss of New Jersey.

Sharing your views with school leaders is the heart of Speaking Up for Every Child, the fourth of the six National Standards for Family School Partnerships. Families should feel empowered to be advocates for their own and other children, to ensure that students are treated fairly and have access to learning opportunities that will support their success.

Consider advocating for state or local policies to support arts in education. It takes a variety of policies across many areas of education to ensure a high quality learning experience, such as:

  • Arts as a core academic subject
  • Resources for early childhood learning in the arts
  • Learning and teaching standards
  • Time, space, and resources for elementary, middle and high school arts programs
  • Schools offer opportunities to participate in the arts during and after school
  • Students are graded on content knowledge and skills they’ve learned in art programs

Visit ArtScan by Arts Education Partnership to learn more about your state’s policies supporting arts education. And check out the Arts Education Field Guide by Americans for the Arts to expand your arts in education network.

The arts — and the National PTA Reflections® program, in particular — can be a valuable tool for building stronger partnerships in your school community and meeting the standard for speaking up for every child. When families come together at Reflections events, they have the opportunity to dialogue about the value of art education and how to work together to advocate for more.

Read more to learn about each of the National Standards for Family-School Partnerships and the steps you can take with PTA Reflections to meet them. Also, consider enrolling in the National PTA School of Excellence program to gain new ways to engage all families in each of the standards. National PTA School of Excellence is a recognition program that supports and celebrates partnerships between PTAs and schools to enrich the educational experience and overall well-being for all students. Contact excellence@pta.org or call (800)307-4782 for more info.

Fourth in a series of blog posts co-authored by National PTA’s Senior Manager of Family Engagement Sherri Wilson & Manager of Arts in Education Ethan Clark.