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Talking Points for Arts Education

The Arts are Academic!        
Mississippi’s Arts Advocacy Facts:
  • The arts (dance, music, theatre, visual art) are required to be taught in grades K-8 in Mississippi. Currently it is not a requirement that certified arts teachers teach arts disciplines in grades K-8. This is an advocacy opportunity.
  • At the secondary level, state law does not specify what arts disciplines are to be taught. State policy requires that all students obtain 1 Carnegie Unit in the arts for graduation.
  • Where certified teachers are teaching the arts in K-6, funding for full or part time teacher positions comes from local tax revenues, and the decision to offer the arts is made by the local school board. This is why there are inconsistencies in arts offerings across school districts in the state.
  • Local school districts have some discretion about how to use both state and federal funds. For example, a district may choose to use its state or federal funds to hire a music teacher instead of a hiring a counselor or a librarian at the K-6 level. Federal Title funds may also be used to hire arts teachers.
  • At the high school level, the local district decides which arts disciplines to offer and in how many courses students may enroll. Parents can and do influence local education decisions.

Advocating in word and deed:

  • Advocate for arts education every day by planning for and maintaining high-quality learning experiences that include the arts for all students in your classroom.
  • Utilize excellent and appropriate visual and performing arts examples and repertoire that illustrate the value and benefits of the arts when planning for classroom instruction.
  • Communicate the benefits of arts education in daily instruction and in school and/or public performances. This includes promoting career opportunities in the arts and arts education for students at all grade levels.
  • Communicate the value of the arts and arts education to parents and citizens in the local community or beyond.
  • Stop referring to arts classes as “activities” or “specials.” The arts are academic, with rich content that has stood the test of time. The arts are fully incorporated into federal education legislation and Mississippi’s Curriculum Frameworks, and are named as core subjects alongside science, language arts, mathematics, and others.
  • Work in partnership with arts education colleagues in your school and in the school district to promote student benefits acquired through learning in the arts.
  • Seek professional development opportunities that advance arts education training. Educate school administrators about your professional development needs. Don’t simply accept whatever staff development the district offers.
  • Work with other arts teachers and school administrators in the school district to plan professional development experiences that include the arts, and offer discipline specific training for arts teachers.
  • Support the work of the Mississippi Alliance for Arts Education (MAAE). This statewide organization advocates for high-quality, sequential arts education for all students K-12. The MAAE works in partnership with the Mississippi Department of Education to impact education policy and practice, and with the Mississippi Arts Commission to implement sequential arts education in schools and communities statewide. The MAAE is a member of the Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education Network.

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