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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Letter to Editors for National Arts in Education Week

In honor of National Arts in Education week from September 8-14, Jacques Rodrigue, Executive Director of the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts, submitted the following letter to news editors across Louisiana.  

Pictured throughout are teachers learning Louisiana A+ Schools methods and the importance of the arts to unlock the potential of their students at our first LAA+ Summer Institute and students embracing the arts.

To the Editor;

This week as we celebrate National Arts in Education Week, imagine for a moment a school where science classes are interpreting photosynthesis through dance; high-school language arts students are analyzing Georgia O’Keefe paintings in relation to great works of literature; and math is taught through learning to compose music.  These types of schools exist in Louisiana through a new program spearheaded by The George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts called “Louisiana A+ Schools.”

Louisiana A+ Schools is grounded in hundreds of studies proving the effectiveness of integrating the arts into classroom instruction. In arts integrated schools, rather than teach math or science from a textbook, teachers use visual art, music, dance or theatre. The result is increased standardized test scores, improved student attendance, decreased disciplinary issues, and greater teacher engagement.
In Louisiana, the effectiveness of arts integration can be seen in seven Louisiana A+ Schools in Shreveport, Monroe, New Iberia, Reserve, Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

These schools have chosen to integrate the arts on a daily basis. In all of these schools you will find students learning differently and more effectively as a result of the arts. This is because the arts are the only academic subjects that teach all of the 21st Century Learning skills such as critical problem solving, analysis, creativity, and teamwork.  For Louisiana students to be college-ready and competitive for the workforce, they must have an education rich with a learning environment that makes them successful. The arts are the solution.

Over ten years ago, No Child Left Behind established accountability measures in math and science that caused schools to decrease or eliminate arts instruction in exchange for increasing more time during the day to drill students in math and science. Yet last month, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan reported that only one quarter of American students scored high enough on college entrance exams in math, science, and reading to be considered ready for college or a career.

Clearly, cutting the arts in favor of more math and science is not working for our youth.  We need a generation of great minds and creative thinkers to become our future business owners, community leaders, and neighbors. We can accomplish this together by embracing the endless possibilities the arts bring to learning.

For more information on how The George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts is working to advance arts education, please visit www.aplusla.org.

Jacques Rodrigue
Executive Director
George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts

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