California Arts Council

State of California

CREATE CA: Leaders meet on March 30-31 in Coronado to discuss arts education reforms
New coalition sponsors second meeting between California education, arts and business leaders to craft a blueprint for arts education

Published: 03-08-2012

Education, business and arts leaders will meet for a statewide forum on arts education in Coronado (San Diego County) on March 30-31. "CREATE CA" (formerly CREATE the STATE) is a broad-based statewide initiative from various leaders in education, business and the arts with the goal of examining the current state of arts education in California and broadening California's educational vision. (CREATE stands for "Core Reforms Engaging Arts To Educate.") The Coronado forum is the second for the CREATE CA team.   

The March CREATE CA Forum will introduce the Joint Arts Education Task Force charged with creating the State Superintendent of Public Instruction's new education policy document, Blueprint for Creative Schools: How the Arts and Creative Education Can Transform California Classrooms.

"The Superintendent is really excited about CREATE CA and The Blueprint for Creative Schools," said Craig Cheslog, principal advisor to California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. "As Torlakson travels the state, talking to business and community leaders, they're telling him 'We need students who graduate from high school and college who are critical thinkers, creators, innovators, and collaborators.' These skills do not come from studying for bubble tests, but are certainly developed when students engage in the arts in meaningful ways."

Leaders at the California Arts Council note that it is a critical time to address the issue of innovation and creativity in schools. "We see the next two years as a key window of opportunity for significant change for the arts in schools," said Malissa Feruzzi Shriver, chair of the California Arts Council. "The No Child Left Behind federal policy expires--and potentially with it, the associated reliance on the testing regimens of the past."

California's educational leaders note the unique nature of the arts education forum. "In 41 years of working in education, I have never seen an alignment like this," said Fresno County School Superintendent Larry Powell, an education reformer known for his strong advocacy of arts education.

The "CREATE" in "CREATE CA" ("Core Reforms Engaging Arts To Educate") describes the aim of this unique partnership to expand California's educational vision, policy, and practices to promote creativity, innovation, and economic development. The four key members of the effort are the California Arts Council, the California Department of Education, the California Alliance for Arts Education, and the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCSESA).

The CREATE CA 2012 spring forum will take place at the Coronado School of the Arts. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson is slated to be a speaker, as is Dr. Sarah Cunningham, former Director of Education at the National Endowment for the Arts.

More Background
Policy leaders recognize that access to high-quality public schools and arts education varies, and that California faces unique challenges because of its diverse student population. Of the state's 6.25 million K-12 students, 1.5 million are English language learners; 678,000 receive special-education services; and 3.25 million receive free or partially subsidized lunches. Nearly two-thirds of California's K-12 students attend schools where arts education has declined in the classroom. Recent national studies have noted a 49% decline in arts education for African Americans and a 40% decline for Latino students.

To reverse this trend, leaders in California are working together to build public will, impact public policy, and design innovative approaches for funding and stability for arts education. The group's core beliefs include recognition that all students need access to the arts and innovative learning strategies to prepare themselves for high school graduation, college and post-high school learning, and successful careers.

More information is available through press releases and blogs concerning the first CREATE CA meeting as well as the Education Leaders Institute from the NEA.

The consortium of leaders and stakeholders was brought together through the Education Leaders Institute 2011, a program initiated by the National Endowment for the Arts. The first meeting for the CREATE CA stakeholders took place at Loyola Marymount University in October, 2011, and was sponsored by Loyola Marymount, the Fresno County Department of Education, The Boeing Corporation, the California Arts Council and the California Department of Education.

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