Colorado Council on the Arts
COMMITTEE ON JOINT EDUCATION
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08:15 AM -- Colorado Council on the Arts
Elaine Mariner, representing the Colorado Council of the Arts, spoke to the committee about preparing a 21st century workforce. She provided a number of handouts (Attachment D). Ms. Mariner talked about research around arts education, speaking to a study conducted by the Colorado Department of Education and the Council on the Arts. She noted that a quarter of the 1700 schools that received the survey responded, and that the schools were rated on 14 factors. She explained that the research found that most schools offer some formal arts education (93 percent of elementary schools; 86 percent of middle schools; and 83 percent of high schools), but noted that student participation in arts programs drops off in middle and high school.
Ms. Mariner stated that the study showed the following:
- there were higher reading, writing, and science CSAP scores for schools with arts education, regardless of the students' racial or socioeconomic status;
- time, and not money, is the biggest challenge in incorporating arts into the curriculum;
- other factors that create barriers to incorporating arts into the curriculum include the failure of parents to make arts a priority, and rural schools having trouble finding qualified arts teachers;
- 53 percent of Colorado's high schools students do not take any arts courses; and
- the most important finding of the study is that providing arts education is a school choice.
Ms. Mariner explained that the study looked at Colorado's creative economy (see Attachment D), and noted that Colorado ranks 5th in the nation for artists per capita. Ms. Mariner explained that arts education is not just fun, it is also workforce preparation.
Ms. Mariner introduced Sheila Sears and Karol Gates and explained their role at the Council. Ms. Mariner also discussed the importance of professional development for educators on arts education. Ms. Mariner noted that just as Colorado is working to be a leader in the new energy economy, Colorado should also create a strategic plan for growing the state's creative economy sector. Senator Hudak asked how to deal with schools who are eliminating arts education to improve reading skills. Ms. Gates stressed the importance of all teachers buying into an integrated program that incorporates subjects such as arts. She said that there may be short term gains when the programs are scrapped, but in the long term, she questioned how that affects the students as they enter the workforce, and how it affects a school's ability to teach 21st century learning and innovation.
Ms. Mariner added that it is incumbent upon arts teachers to find how they are part of the curriculum, and to become integrated in the curriculum. Ms. Sears discussed the creative pathways, how that works with the community college system. Ms. Mariner noted that the Council has a list of policy recommendations that she could share with the committee.
The committee adjourned.