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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

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Happy Arts in Education Week and Hear from an A+ Student

In July of 2010, the U.S. House of Representatives passed House Resolution #275 designating the second week of September as National Arts in Education Week. The resolution expressed congressional support for arts education:
Whereas arts education, comprising a rich array of disciplines including dance, music, theatre, media arts, literature, design, and visual arts, is a core academic subject and an essential element of a complete and balanced education for all students.
In honor of this week, we wanted to share with you a great article from a student (pictured below) at Riverside Academy, our A+ School in Reserve, Louisiana.  Louisiana A+ Schools is a program of GRFA that trains teachers and schools how to teach students through arts-integration methods.  We think she really sums up exactly what this week is all about!

Sarah Peytavin submitted her article to the Times-Picayune in New Orleans and you can see it online here.  However, we loved it so much that we have reproduced it below (pictured throughout, teachers from Riverside receiving professional development training at our Summer Institute):
Riverside Academy in Reserve recently became one of seven Louisiana A+ schools. The program is designed to bring art to all classrooms through dance, music, theater and other art mediums . . .
On the first day of school, the teachers delightfully cheered, danced, and sang about the changes that A+ would bring to Riverside. 
One simply has to enter the building to see the difference. The front hallway is decorated with expressions and pictures that students feel represent Riverside. 
In high school, Angie Roussel’s math classes are learning to graph the volume of songs rather than learning through a traditional lecture. Mary Graci’s AP government and politics class has been making life-size models of the Founding Fathers while her AP human geography class has been studying cartography by making maps of the school and to their homes. Graci’s classes have also been putting on history-related silent plays. 
Elementary and preschool students also are enjoying the new art curriculum. Kendra Glider preschool class served as authors and illustrators for the class ABC book and learned about sentences by singing the Sentence Buddy song. The kindergarteners recently went on a Blue Dog hunt around the school. The students in Molly Duhe’s kindergarten class are frequently seen creating letters with their bodies. The third graders can be found creating arrays on the floor using tiles and creating their very own maps of the United States. 
Elementary students have also been reading the short story, “Why is the Blue Dog Blue?” to serve as inspiration for their very own blue dog drawings and stories. 
The new curriculum is being welcomed by many open minded students and teachers at Riverside Academy. 
Thank you so much Sarah for the great early report!  Students like you are the reason why we do all that we can to keep the arts in school.  Happy arts in education week!