/educators/how-to/advocacy-essentials/reaching-out-to-school-boards

Reaching Out to School Board Members

Lesson plans for teachers on advocating for arts education

Overview

Need a lesson plan on how to engage school board members about the importance of arts education? Read on for some helpful tips.

But first, let’s look at research and reality.

In Gaining the Arts Advantage, a study conducted by the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities and the Arts Education Partnership, researchers reported that school districts with strong arts education programs generally have boards of education that provide a supportive policy framework and environment for quality arts education. School board members want to support the arts but are often bombarded with shifting priorities like federal, state, and local policy and accountability measures, strained budgets, and competition for instructional time.

That’s where teachers come in. To work effectively with school board members, teachers need to develop strategies that address practical concerns and provide compelling rationale to support arts funding. These conversations with school board members should be about the best interest of all students. In addition, they have to:

  • promote the right of every child to have access to a complete education that includes the arts. 
  • illustrate the effect of arts learning across the curriculum. 
  • remind board members that the arts build community and introduce children to cultures different from their own. 
  • be realistic about the many other priorities facing school board members while still passionate about the arts.

Whether through quick, in-depth, or long-range strategies, you can learn to become an effective arts advocate.

Lesson 1: Quick Strategies

  • Give a presentation on the latest research about arts education using resources such as the Research Based Communication Toolkit from the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies. 
  • Have students perform or show artwork focusing on the arts content knowledge and skills learned. 
  • Share the creative process leading up to a performance, connecting it to skills acquisition such as discipline, focus, and so on. 
  • Demonstrate that students are able to not only create and perform, but also analyze and respond to works of art.

Lesson 2: In-depth Strategies 

  • Personally invite school board members to attend an arts class, exhibition, rehearsal, or performance. 
  • Publicly thank them for supporting arts education. 
  • Work with other arts teachers and parent support groups in your school district to monitor information and issues currently before the board of education.

Lesson 3: Long-range Strategies 

  • Work with school board members to get the school administration to conduct a community audit reviewing the arts education in your district. 
  • Learn to use valuable research tools. For example, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, through the Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education Network, developed A Community Audit for Arts Education: Better Schools, Better Skills, Better Communities to assist local education, community, and cultural leaders in assessing the status of arts education in their schools and school districts. Review this important tool on ways to encourage community partnerships in order to strengthen and expand arts education for all students.

There are many competing demands on school districts. Learn your lessons well. Be persistent. You can and will make substantial and positive change in support for arts education at your school by deepening your level of engagement with school board members.

Credits

Writers

Gary De Vault
Original Writer

Editors & Producers

Corey Madden

Katie Freeman

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SUPPORTING INDIVIDUAL NEEDS

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