Educators from across the country are descending on San Diego next week to learn how Chula Vista Elementary School District and San Diego Unified School District teach the arts.
But as San Diego Unified is sharing its expertise with conference-goers, the district is itself trying to figure out how make sure all of its 130,000 students get a quality arts education.
One expert on fostering creativity in schools is glad the district’s undertaking the challenge, but wonders why it took so long.
From now until May, the district’s Visual and Performing Arts Department is developing a strategic arts education plan that would eventually result in a new policy for arts in every school.
“One of the big pieces is definitely equity,” said Russ Sperling, director of San Diego Unified’s Visual and Performing Arts Department. “We have strong programs here and there, but how do we make sure every student has access to the strong arts education they deserve?”
Currently, he said, arts education in the district is spotty: Where some schools have thriving programs, others don’t even provide the basic programs that can serve as a creative foundation as students progress.
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If Sperling did just a little homework on the "pockets of success" for VAPA in SDUSD, he'd come across the one thing that can make or break a VAPA program: money. The successful programs have funding, and the others don't. The district supports its arts magnet schools (at least to some extent), but elsewhere the parents pony-up and host fundraisers to pay for an art teacher, an art program, music and instruments, licensing fees and props, etc. So Sterling and his committee can come up with a great strategic plan, but unless it's "revenue neutral," it will get shelved with all the other SDUSD plans that cost money.
As a hint, the least expensive option for elementary art education is to make the teacher prep periods VAPA rather than PE (which is what the majority of schools use for prep time). It's not that difficult for a regular K-5 classroom teacher to instruct a physical activity (e.g. jogging around the field, a class game of dodgeball or soccer) each week so that VAPA activities could be taught during prep time.
@EducatedMom I would rather my boys have a structured physical education class taught by a physical education teacher. "Dodgeball"? The district has a policy against it. Human targets and all. "Running laps" Schools should all have a morning run club. Of course my boys school is spoiled with a quality physical education teacher who teaches to the grade specific California physical education state standards.
VAPA is important and should be included at ALL, but not at the expense of much needed physical education.
Love your posts and maybe now you can be "MoreEducatedMom" :)