It is no secret that art education benefits students, but an exciting amount of activity in Illinois and at the National Level demonstrates a renewed willingness to act on this knowledge.

The launch of the National Core Arts Standards, Ingenuity’s State of the Arts in Chicago Public Schools Report, Arts Alliance Illinois’s Arts Education Policy Improvement Agenda, and the National Art Education Association’s Research Agenda prove a renewed energy in establishing the importance of arts in schools.

The word is out- students engaged with the arts are more creative, adaptable, and engaged-both academically and socially.

Art Advocacy Day – April 12th, Springfield, IL

This is a call to action. Positive dialogue is starting among policy leaders. We have made many connections in Illinois, and require your assistance in adding to the progression. This past April, 60+ individuals, which included teachers, students, and art supporters, visited the Springfield Capitol in order to grow support for fine arts education. There have been many successes, and we need to capitalize on them. On April 12th, 2016, the IAEA in partnership with the Arts Alliance, Ingenuity, and the Illinois Music Education Association, will again visit the capitol. My goal is to have representation of over 100 individuals for this visit. We need you to sign up now.

Illinois is undertaking the project of reviewing to renew the Illinois Learning Standards for Fine Arts, which have not been updated since 1997. This undertaking, initiated by ISBE and our friends at Arts Alliance Illinois, has involved active participation from the IAEA. The National Core Arts Standards were carefully researched and written, with documentation on the entire working process still available online.

Please take time to review the Standards, the process that generated them, and the many initiatives taking shape in Illinois.

Then email the Advocacy Task Force your thoughts! We look forward to hearing how a successful implementation can revalue the role of visual arts in your schools and districts.

5 Points for Advancing Art Education

Positive changes in art education require not merely advocacy, but leadership. Leadership inside classrooms, schools, and within the larger context of art education can forward the status of the field. Advancing the field requires an ongoing process of learning and renewal for the art educator.

  1. Every conversation counts: Whether your art program is robust or sparse, YOU are the sole representative of the entire field of art education. Always represent the depth, quality, and rigor of what you do every day. Ambassadorship is a full time job!
  2. Stay aware of the values of every audience: Communicate the importance of art education to in a way that appeals to the values of others.
  3. Develop parent and business community partners: Visibility and professional connections within the community can sustain your programming, lead to additional funding, and support local businesses. Parent involvement, properly organized, can also help elevate your status in the community.
  4. Remember your context: Leadership and advocacy should be sensitive to contextual factors. Challenging context norms without a track record of collaboration and success can be perceived as insensitive and out of touch.
  5. Be an exemplary teacher: Although the visual arts content is unique, good teaching and learning is easily recognized in any content area. There are many perceptions about art education classrooms, all of which you can challenge by demonstrating student learning, sharing well-articulated lesson plans, and structuring an enriching learning experience for students everyday. Involvement in your professional organization and pursuing advanced studies in the field of art education can afford you additional support.

This map includes a composite of data about art education in Illinois, by county. County and poverty information was generated from the Center for Education Statistics. Art Educator information came from the Illinois State Board of Education’s Teacher Service record.

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