This is the online stream for sharing conversations that happened throughout the Greater Bay Area from March through June 2012 around the question:

How can we collectively transform public education through the arts to create a better future for everyone?

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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

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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.

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The opportunity for this on-line conversation to connect individuals and communities

I am here at the first Synthesis meeting.  Everyone here is reflecting on what has been posted in the stream of conversations, and thinking about what this on-line conversation and blogging could be good for.

Others in this synthesis process are triggering me to think about the bridges between teachers and students, teachers and teaching artists, families and communities.  I am wondering about how those relationships can be captured in photos and stories, and then shared in this on-line space to communicate about how poetry, music and dance facilitate connections and make similarities and differences visible.

An interesting aspect of the discussion today had to do with clustering ideas and patterns culled from the conversations to create a map of the various stakeholders (tracking who is currently in the conversation and who is not), track the actions they are taking, notice hubs and think about complimentary expertise and mutually reinforcing activities that can help everyone to be more effective.


Thoughts from Wendi Bushehry

Hi, I was part of the conversation on March 8th about Mapping out the next steps for arts integration project. The questions and thoughts I have are; and I’m coming from the teaching artist perspective, I feel there is a disconnect right now with the transition process, we have these models of programs that work so we need to identify which way we want to go. Do we want one place for teaching artists to work from? or are the teaching artists to develop there own program and work together. We need a logo, forms, website, some kind of collateral to give to the schools, administrators. We need a place for teaching artist to go and find out information and we need an easy artful place for teachers, administrator to go and sign up for what they want. So, this is what I’ve been thinking about and I just want to hear what other people think. Thank you for taking your time!