Is the SFUSD Arts Education Master Plan (AEMP) fulfilling it’s promise?
This past Tuesday, May 10, 2016, the Board of Education heard a report from a special district task force charged with reviewing our district’s Arts Education Master Plan (AEMP). If you haven’t heard of it, you are probably not alone. Even though it was approved over 10 years ago by the board, which supposedly guides the way that schools provide visual and performing arts instruction to all students throughout the district, I myself had never heard of it, even after several years of being a committed school and district volunteer.
In case you are unfamiliar with the plan, here’s how the district describes it:
The Arts Education Master Plan (AEMP) is San Francisco Unified School District’s blueprint for integrating the arts into each student’s daily curriculum. It details why and how the district will provide an education in which students accrue quality knowledge of the arts and creative experiences from day one of preschool through their senior year in high school.
How are we doing so far?
So, after 10 years of implementation, the district has reconvened its task force to see how the plan is working by calling for this recent presentation to the board. This is how Rachel Norton described the Arts Education Master Plan Advisory Committee presentation on her blog:
We had a very substantive presentation from the Arts Education Master Plan Advisory Committee on the plan’s successes over the past decade and also ongoing challenges. In a nutshell, the plan has done a lot of good in our schools and it’s time for a major refresh — taking into account the vision for the SFUSD Arts Center that would house district-wide arts professional development and educational programs as well as a brand new Ruth Asawa School of the Arts.
The SFUSD Arts Education Master Plan: A Living Portfolio
In order to effectively evaluate the current plan, we need to understand it’s original purpose. With that in mind, it’s helpful to see how district staff talk about it. Here’s a short district video describing what the Arts Education Master Plan does for our students:
As the district Visual and Performing Arts staff in the video states: “The Arts Education Master Plan is a promise that we keep. It’s a promise for access and equity in arts education.” The question is, is this happening is every school, for every student, every day?
The AEMP lays out a bold and important vision for all students to receive quality Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) instruction throughout our district. This is why I really appreciated questions from Norton, Fewer and Walton at the Board last Tuesday, especially those questioning whether it’s really realistic for our district Arts Education Master Plan (AEMP) to claim our district is giving all kids access to quality arts programs in ALL our schools.
What do families have to say?
I appreciate the fact that there are many important arts experts and VAPA staff members in the working groups. Nonetheless, looking over the folks listed in the committee, there is only ONE representative from a San Francisco school serving a predominantly underserved population (Downtown HS). All other participants represent well resourced schools that are predominantly on the west side of the city, including: Lowell High School, Ruth Asawa School of the Arts High School, Lawton K-8 School, Rooftop Elementary. This list of folks is FAR from inclusive and doesn’t even begin to come close to involving participation from the actual teachers, parents, students, and arts organizations across the city who are supposed to be partners in making the current model a reality.
Additionally, representation seems heavily weighted to middle and high schools when you consider there are over 70 elementary schools in our district as compared to roughly 15 and 10 middle and high schools respectively (not counting K-8 schools).
Based on this, I decided to start with you families and ask YOU what you think.
Is the Arts Education Master Plan happening at your child’s school? What are your experiences? Please take time to take the survey, and share it with other families in your school community!
You can fill it out this short survey right here on my blog (below), or go to this link! Please fill out one survey per child and if you are filling it out on this website, be sure to scroll sown to fill out all 10 questions!)