With the Common Core State Standards' emphasis on higher expectations in reading and mathematics, as well as standardized testing in both subjects, educators, parents, and policymakers alike have wondered if these new standards will crowd out subjects that foster creativity, such as the arts. In California, the answer will hopefully be no — at least if a school administrators association has anything to say about it.
With the help of a $100,000 grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCSESA) will implement Creativity at the Core, an arts education initiative emphasizing professional development to help teachers use the arts to deepen student learning. The program emerged from a set of recommendations by the California Arts Council (CAC), which received $300,000 in funding from the California State Assembly. The Hewlett Foundation grant of $100,000 will help in the implementation of the activities, all of which are aligned with the Common Core, adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia.
CAC and CCSESA see Creativity at the Core as providing valuable tools for teachers to stimulate student engagement and interest through use of the arts. For Hewlett, the program is consistent with the funder's overall education funding goals, which emphasize Deeper Learning and supporting education reform in the foundation's home state. Deeper Learning, a major Hewlett initiative, goes beyond the mastery of core academic content to emphasize the simultaneous development of creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving skills while mastering reading and mathematics.
Amen to all that.