December 2015 Update
This is an update on the current stance of the California Department of Education on the timeline and process for adopting new California Visual and Performing Arts State Standards. As you may be aware CDEA, as part of the California 4ArtsEdOrgs Coalition (CAEA, CDEA, CETA, CMEA) co-sponsored this year’s Senate Bill 725. SB 725 called for the start of the process to update current California Visual and Performing Arts Standards given that new national arts standards are available for states to adopt or adapt.
SB 725 moved smoothly through the Senate and in the summer it was moving also along through the Assembly when the bill was sacrificed due to an urgent educational situation. The language about the standards in SB 725 was gutted totally and replaced with language that solved the issue of the thousands of CA high school students that did not pass or take the CA High School Exit Exam in 2015. These students were now caught without access to the exam due to changes in California’s testing. CDEA and the California 4ArtsEdOrgs Coalition were left without a bill or legislation to trigger the beginning of the process of updating the 15 year-old arts standards.
Since this transpired, CDEA’s leadership has been working to determine where the Visual and Performing Arts—VAPA— state standards fall in the order of the current CDE standard’s process. The following summaries provide insight into the proactive approaches CDEA and the other arts education professional organizations are taking in the area of arts education and the new standards as we jointly navigate and face the challenges ahead.
The CDE currently has a standards bill that is in its second year of moving through the legislative process, Assembly Bill 740. AB 740’s language provides a process for updating all standards. However, no order of content areas is provided in the bill, which seems to leave it up to the State Board of Education and CDE to establish a schedule.
Senator Ben Allen Calls for Joint Committee on the Arts Hearing
On November 6, a hearing was convened by Senator Ben Allen to help understand why districts were not following the Education Code that requires districts to provide courses of study in all four disciplines of the arts in grades 1 – 12. At the hearing Superintendent Torlakson was represented by Lupita Cortez Alcala, Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction, Instruction & Learning Support Branch. When the topic of new Visual and Performing Arts standards was raised Dr. Alcala provided some insight into CDE’s timeline.
- Alcala stated on behalf of CDE, “We’re looking forward to getting funded in this next governor’s budget for July 2016 to include funding so that we can revise the Visual and Performing Arts standards and that should take anywhere from 12 – 18 months depending on how much field and public comment there is, but we’re excited about working with the National Standards in order to create some of those new California Visual and Performing Arts Standards. We are looking forward to getting funded to do that work.”
- “In addition,” she stated, “the Superintendent also has a Blueprint 2.0 that has the Visual and Performing Arts as subjects that we need to update and move forward with.”
California 4ArtsEdOrgs call for Meeting with Superintendent Torlakson
In order to continue to be pro-active, the presidents and their presidents-elect or designees of the California 4ArtsEdOrgs asked for a meeting with Superintendent Torlakson. The goal of this meeting was to reintroduce the Superintendent and his office to the four professional arts education organizations and our missions and to remind them that we represent all of California’s credentialed arts teachers.
The meeting took place on November 16, 2015 with Superintendent Torlakson’s designee, Deputy Lupita Cortez Alcala, Carrie Roberts, Director, Professional Learning Support Division, and Tom Adams, Director, Curriculum Frameworks & Instructional Resource Division. At the meeting we inquired as to the next steps CDE would take to update the VAPA standards. It was made clear to the California 4ArtsEdOrgs that the funding being requested by CDE from the governor’s budget for July 2016 would be utilized for World Languages or Health standards and not Visual and Performing Arts standards.
In further clarification from Deputy Superintendent Alcala, she confirmed that the VAPA standards could be considered along with World Languages; however, the CDE perceives that there are “some unresolved issues” around new VAPA standards being based on the National Core Arts Standards, “that will take public discussion before reaching consensus.” The leadership of the 4ArtsEdOrg Coalition tried at the meeting to elicit from the CDE staff present the perceived “issues,” however, the responses they gave were not satisfactory nor did they reflect what our organizations are hearing from our membership—that California teachers that are already trying out using the new standards, nor from the California feedback during the National Standards development.
California 4ArtsEdOrgs’ leadership each are updating their membership as to the above developments. As Deputy Superintendent Alcala has left her post as of December 1 to lead the CA Student Aid Commission, it will be important to continue the dialogue with Tom Adams, who has been appointed as the new Deputy Superintendent. Our 4ArtsEdOrg Coalition is working together to develop strategies for moving forward with new arts standards. In January the CDEA leadership will begin to develop membership strategies for action, both local and statewide, to push for new California Visual and Performing Arts standards and to ensure CA Education Code compliance so that students have VAPA programs available locally. CDEA hopes to continue this conversation with its membership at our state conference in Berkeley on January 29, 2016. CDEA thanks you for your interest and support as we endeavor to do what is right for California’s school children.
Great news! Senate Bill 725 has made it through the amendment process in the Appropriations Committee and now moves on to the Assembly Education Committee. This is truly excellent news! It will be heard in this committee on July 15. This means we have until 5 pm on July 9th to send in letters of support to the members of the Assembly Education Committee (see attached document)…especially if you are one of their constituents. There are 7 members and they need to know that arts supporters in their districts care about this bill. If you do not live in their districts, contact the Chair, Assembly Member Mc’Donnell.
Attached is a factsheet on the bill and a sample support letter, along with the list of Education Committee members and where they serve. Please open these documents and take a moment to make your voice heard.
I am requesting from all of you, and our awesome communications team, that this information be shared as widely as possible amongst our membership and beyond– updated VAPA standards are good for all!