Volume 6 Issue 2

Building Local Capacity to Bring Arts Education to All Children: Lessons Learned from the First Half of the Ford Foundation's National Demonstration

By Gertrude Spilka and Meg Long, OMG Center for Collaborative Learning


Interested in bringing the benefits of the arts as integral to quality education for all children, in 2004 the Ford Foundation launched the National Arts Education Initiative, a seven-year demonstration in nine communities across the United States. Building from arts education programs that serve “pockets” of children, Ford investments aim to leverage these arts programs to reach all children through increased public will, supportive policy systems, and community partnerships. The ultimate aim is to build sustainable, coordinated arts education delivery systems for all children as part of a quality education. This article presents some of the lessons from the internal evaluation of the first half of the initiative conducted by the OMG Center for Collaborative Learning.


Re-Placing the Arts in Elementary School Curricula: An Interdisciplinary, Collaborative Action Research Project

By Allen Trent, University of Wyoming, and Jorge-Ayn Riley, Denver Public Schools


This article describes a collaborative action research project aimed at deliberately “replacing” art in the elementary curriculum through targeted planning, implementation, and assessment of an art integrated unit in an urban 4th grade classroom. Findings and implications should be relevant to elementary teachers, administrators, art specialists, and teacher educators. Our findings illustrate the power of art-integrated education to support student learning at high levels and in meaningful ways. 

“Using art to learn things was helpful because you can express what you have learned” (4th grade student interview 5/9/08).

Critical Literacy and Art Education: Alternatives in the School Reform Movement

By Joyce Millman, Moore College of Art and Design

Art education offers a way to reach students and make schools more relevant for them. Art teachers can create alternative formats that allow students to explore and learn about their lives. Thereby, students and their communities become the focus of the curriculum and students’ responses are valued as individual expression. While teaching art in Philadelphia schools, I began to explore connections between curriculum and teaching techniques and thought of strategies I believed would be beneficial to my students. Now in my new role as an art teacher educator, teaching prospective and practicing art teachers in the current climate of “reform” is a pressing challenge. In this article I discuss critical literacy and its connections to art education.

On Culture, Art, and Experience

By Carolyn Chernoff, University of Pennsylvania

While the arts in the United States are themselves often controversial, arts in public schools rarely are. That is to say that teachers, administrators, parents, students, and community members tend to agree that the opportunity to participate in the arts is beneficial to students and to the wider society. Whether discipline based arts education (DBAE or “art for art’s sake”), integrated arts (art that promotes core content knowledge— literacy, numeracy, critical thinking—alongside self-expression), or somewhere in between, the desire to have art (including music and theater) in public schools is well-known.

A Review of The Art of Placemaking: Interpreting Community Through Public Art and Urban Design By Ronald Lee Fleming

Review by Christopher Steinmeier, University of Pennsylvania

Ronald Lee Fleming’s The Art of Placemaking is a book crafted largely on the premise of connections – between people and cultures, between eras in history, between materialism and mythology, and between disciplines. It is also a book that emphasizes the strength of the connections which in turn determine the resonance and sustainability of a given place. The book is divided into two major sections: the first section offers case studies of various places along with descriptions of the design processes and their impact, while the second details the design process in general, including the questions one should ask of a place and potential designs.

Women's Well-Being Initiative: Creating, Practicing, and Sharing a Border Pedagogy for Youth

By Sheri C. Hardee, Gainesville State College, and Amanda Reyelt, Abiding Village Urban Arts Center


This qualitative study examines alternative arts-based education in two urban educational settings for underrepresented or marginalized youth. In particular, the authors use postcolonial and feminist theories to create borderland spaces where marginalized youth can develop strong identities, establish a community mindset, and cultivate leadership skills through supplementary arts education programs. Our goal with this work is not only to empower youth but also to bridge the gap between postcolonial theories of the borderland and traditional classroom practices. In addition, our efforts bring students’ work and voices to the forefront, helping students take the first steps to becoming critical change agents within their communities and beyond.


Removing Our Masks: Using the Visual and Performing Arts to Promote Deep Reflection in Pre-service Teachers

By Patricia Alvarez McHatton, University of South Florida, and Erica D. McCray, University of Florida

The role of reflection is central to teacher preparation. As individuals integrate new information within their existing schema, they refine their practice (Dewey, 1933; Schon, 1983). Another view of reflection suggests that as individuals have new experiences, they frame and re-frame issues within their own actions and also in the broader socio-political context (Hatton & Smith, 1995). We learn by reflecting on what we do not just by doing it.

A Perfect Murder: An (Imperfect) School Theater Program Model

By Nicole S. Simon, Harvard University, and Andrew Grosso, The Essentials


On a rainy night in January 2009, ten Brooklyn public high school students walked through Times Square to the stage door of Theatre Row, an acclaimed theater on 42nd Street, to perform their show A Perfect Murder. They entered a few minutes before Lili Taylor arrived for her show. It was the same stage door that Ethan Hawke, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Cynthia Nixon and various other Off-Broadway stars had used in the previous months. The students went to their dressing rooms, warmed up by dancing around to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies,” and then took the stage of The Kirk Theatre at Theatre Row before an audience of family, friends, the school community, and curious members of the theater going public. They performed their own play, a hip-hop inflected “remix” of the Leopold and Loeb story (Hidgdon) entitled A Perfect Murder, and received a standing ovation.

Changing Things as They Are: Promoting Social Justice Through Encounters with the Arts

By Amanda Nicole Gulla, Lehman College, The City University of New York

The Case for the Arts in Schools Zach walks into my office, drops his knapsack and falls wearily into the chair across from my desk. He is in his third year as a high school English teacher, and his final semester of the Masters Degree program in English Education of which I am faculty adviser. “The data is suffocating me;” he says first, and then follows up with “this is the only thing keeping me sane.” The “this” Zach is referring to is his Masters thesis in progress, which is an examination of his efforts to employ an aesthetic approach to teaching the novel To Kill a Mockingbird (Lee, 1960).