Spread……….Posted: April 10, 2012
Photo: courtesy students at the Arts and Humanities Academy at Berkeley High School, from the RADIATE project – an interdisciplinary study of radiation, issues of power, language and visual arts
I have just returned from meetings in Coronado California where the California Department of Education, the California Arts Council and the California County Superintendents of Education Services Association were convening working groups comprised of individual and organizations from across the state to consider how to bring learning in and through the arts into the public education of every child, in every school. This initiative is called Create CA, and is inspired not only by the recognition that current education policies are failing to prepare California’s students for the complex and challenging future they are growing into, but that current education policies are doing little to stem a horrific drop out rate, especially for Latino and African American students who are facing an unacceptable future of poverty, violence and encarceration.
Work groups were organized around issues of Educator Quality and Professional Preparation, Policy and Politics, Equity and Access, Collaborative Relationships, Creative Workforce, Research and Evidence Building, Curriculum and Instruction and School Finance and Sustainability. The Bay Area was well represented by the San Francisco MoMA, San Francisco Ballet, KQED, Oakland Unified School District, Oakland School for the Arts, Performing Arts Workshop, Luna Kids Dance, Teaching Artists Organized, San Francisco State University, Alameda County Office of Education, Contra Costa County Office of Education, California College of the Arts, Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education and the San Francisco Arts Commission.
There was so much synergy and overlap in Coronado with the conversation that Helena Carmena Young convened across multiple organizations at the California Academy of Sciences. There the topics included educator quality and curriculum and instruction through STEAM collaborations. So it was with the convening of multiple organizations and individuals at the San Francisco MoMA, as described by Leyna Lightman, where the dream of a renaissance through the arts for equity, access and growing a healthy and vital economy was launched.
Across the Greater Bay Area and this large and diverse state, individuals and organizations are recognizing that while everyone has too much to do already, it makes nothing but good sense to talk to each other and work together. Through these multiple and intersecting entry points and processes, an understanding of both the challenges and the wisdom embedded in our communities is emerging. This emerging understanding is a huge resource that can inform economies of scale, complimentary expertise, and mutually reinforcing activities as a support to new solutions that would never be possible if we all continued to work individually and in isolation – no matter how much money we had available.
The idea is spreading that we are at an important moment where we understand that we not only can we make a collective impact toward a better future for everyone, but that we must employ our most creative powers and energy to create collective solutions that work with our natural environment as well as our human dispositions toward learning, interdependence and community.