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Common Core and Local/State Arts Education Advocacy: What are the opportunities and challenges for funders?

Sunday, October 6
Hamilton Garden Room atop the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts

Join colleagues investing in arts education for this daylong preconference to share the opportunities and challenges presented by the Common Core State Standards Initiative and to learn how funders can support arts education advocacy at the local and state levels.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort to establish a single set of educational standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts and mathematics in participating states. Over the past three years, forty-six states have signed on to voluntarily develop these standards. Initiated by the nation’s governors and education commissioners, through the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), it remains unknown if these standards will encourage systemic arts education or not. The preconference discussion will include presentations by national experts and school practitioners on the Common Core process and what funders need to know about the potential for the arts at the state and local levels.

It is arguable that the arts have not been more successful in finding a stronghold in schools because of our lack of involvement in policy development. If arts programs have not been embraced for the long-term in your schools, strong local and state advocacy could be the support mechanism needed to help your efforts. Direct services through schools and community organizations bring short-term successes and long-term systemic commitments to arts education for all children, including those who have often eluded arts education advocates. All arts education funders should have an understanding of how change becomes systemic and how we can ensure that change is sustainable over time. An important aspect of this preconference will be sharing between colleagues of the ways they are affecting policy and creating potential for success through increased local and state advocacy involvement.


8:45 am
8:45 am
Depart hotel to walk to Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts (approximately 6 blocks)
9:00 am
9:00 am
Continental breakfast in the Hamilton Garden Room
9:30 am
9:30 am
Welcome and Introductions: Janet Brown, President & CEO, Grantmakers in the Arts
9:45 am
9:45 am

Common Core State Standards Initiative: Past, Present, Future (interactive discussion with questions as we go)

History and Current status: Lynne Munson, President and Executive Director of Common Core, a nonprofit organization created by education leaders in 2007, gives us an overview of the Common Core State Standards Initiative and how the arts can, and should, be included in their implementation.

The mission of Munson’s organization is to design curriculum materials that are faithful to the Common Core State Standards implemented by the Common Core State Standards Initiative and to promote programs, policies, and initiatives that provide students with challenging and rigorous instruction in the full range of liberal arts and sciences. They are currently developing a curriculum utilizing visual arts to enhance writing skills. Munson is former deputy chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities and author of Exhibitionism: Art in an Era of Intolerance, written during her tenure at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research.

The Politics of Common Core: As states, school districts, and teachers work to implement Common Core State Standards, political controversy has cropped up, both in the states and with the federal government. Alex Nock, Executive Vice President of Penn Hill Group, a DC-based government relations and consulting firm, will discuss the current state of political issues surrounding the common core and the impact these issues are having on its implementation. Nock will discuss what policymakers in the states are facing, as well as how the Common Core could be impacted through action by congress or the Obama Administration.

Discussion moderated by Julie Fry, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

11:15 am
11:15 am
11:30 am
11:30 am
Richard Kessler: From Practice to Policy: Why Good Intentions Have Not Produced Good Policy in Arts Education
12:15 pm
12:15 pm
1:15 pm
1:15 pm
Successful State and Local Advocacy: We Can All Do It
  • Current Federal/State/Local Education Reform, AFTA Field Guide and AEP State Policy Summary Review
    • Narric Rome, Americans for the Arts, discussion leader
  • What Does It Take to be a Successful Advocacy/Policy Org?
    • Joe Landon, California Alliance for Arts Education
    • Sydney Sidwell, Ingenuity, Chicago
  • Assessing our Local/State Policy and Advocacy Needs, Investing Strategically and Evaluating Practically
    • Narric Rome, discussion leader
3:30 pm
3:30 pm
Close: Janet Brown, Grantmakers in the Arts

Arts Education Preconference Planning Committee:

Presenter Biographies

Julie Fry

Julie Fry is a program officer, Performing Arts Program, for the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation with over twenty years of arts and business experience. Prior to Hewlett, she was associate vice president at The San Diego Foundation, and the first director of The San Diego Foundation’s Arts & Culture Program, where she developed strategies to engage more donors and community members to support the arts in San Diego through research, community outreach events, and funding partnerships. With a working group of committed community leaders, Julie oversaw a planning process and outreach strategy to meet the most critical needs of San Diego’s arts nonprofits and develop effective grantmaking priorities. This included major research into regional cultural participation as well as arts education provisions in San Diego County’s forty-two school districts.

Previously, Julie was director of arts & business programs at the San Diego Performing Arts League. There she expanded its Business Volunteers for the Arts and Technology for the Arts programs and established the Lawyers for the Arts, National Arts Marketing Project, and OnBoard: Arts Board Development programs. Prior to moving to San Diego, she worked for the Business Arts Council in San Francisco and Business in the Arts: North West in Liverpool, England, building arts and business partnerships and providing management consulting services to arts and culture nonprofits.

She received her BBA in economics and French from the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire and her MBA from the University of St. Thomas in Houston. Julie has served on arts boards in the US and UK, and most recently was on the board of San Diego Grantmakers.

Richard Kessler

Richard Kessler is the dean of Mannes College, a 100-year old music conservatory at The New School.

Labeled a “firebrand” by The New York Times, he was executive director of The Center for Arts Education (CAE), the nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring arts education as an essential part of every child’s education in the New York City public schools. His tenure at CAE was largely occupied with establishing CAE as the rare hybrid organization effective at both arts education programs/partnerships with schools and advocacy/policy.

Kessler was born in Brooklyn and grew up in The Rockaways. He holds two degrees from The Juilliard School and was a college faculty member of the Manhattan School of Music from 1988–93. He is the board treasurer of Common Core, the D.C.-based organization dedicated to a liberal arts education for all K-12 children nationwide, and a trustee of the American Composers Orchestra.

In 2005, Kessler was awarded the American Music Center’s Letter of Distinction for his “significant contribution to the field of American music.” In 2010, he was honored by the Music Educators Association of New York and The New York City Art Teachers Association/UFT. Kessler is the author of the arts education blog appearing on Dewey21C.

Joe Landon

Joe Landon was appointed executive director of the California Alliance for Arts Education in 2011 after serving as the organization’s director of policy. The bulk of Landon’s professional career was spent as a practicing artist, having been a playwright-in-residence at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, with his plays and musicals produced there, as well as at the Manhattan Theater Club in New York and the Z Space in San Francisco. He also spent fifteen years writing for television in Los Angeles, with credits that include the movie The Comeback Kid and working for several years on the award winning series The Paper Chase.

His background also includes five years working for members of the California State Assembly in Sacramento as a speechwriter and senior consultant on early childhood education, and six years of classroom teaching experience, as a preschool teacher and elementary music and theater specialist. He lives in Davis with his wife Laura and the comings and goings of three fully grown children.

Lynne Munson

Lynne Munson has served as president and executive director of Common Core since its founding in 2007. In five short years Munson has made Common Core an influential advocate for the liberal arts and sciences and a noted provider of CCSS-based curriculum tools. Common Core’s research has launched widespread public discussions over the narrowing of the curriculum. Common Core’s ELA Maps were the first new curriculum tool created to implement the CCSS. Printed by Jossey-Bass/Wiley and with over five million online views, the maps are shaping CCSS implementation in a demographically diverse array of states and districts nationwide.

Lynne was deputy chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) from 2001–05, overseeing all agency operations. NEH is an independent agency of the federal government that funds scholarly and public projects in the humanities. Lynne conceived of “Picturing America,” the most successful public humanities project in NEH history. The project put more than 75,000 sets of fine art images and teaching guides into libraries, K-12 classrooms, and Head Start centers. In 2005 Lynne led the first post-conflict United States government delegation to Afghanistan to deal with issues of cultural reconstruction. In 2004, she represented the United States at UNESCO meetings in Australia and Japan, where she helped to negotiate guidelines for cross-border higher education.

Alex Nock

Alex Nock, executive vice president, Penn Hill Group, brings more than nineteen years of experience in federal education, disability, labor, and health policy to his work. During his time in Washington, DC, Nock has been a part of every major piece of federal education and disability policy legislation. Prior to his position with Penn Hill Group, Nock served as the Democratic deputy staff director for the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor. From 2007–10, he oversaw all aspects of the committee’s work on elementary and secondary education, higher education, disability policy, early childhood education, health care, retirement security, workplace safety, mine safety, workforce training, and national service.

Nock has led numerous reauthorizations while working on Capitol Hill, including the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Workforce Investment Act, the Higher Education Act, and the Head Start Act. He was one of the lead staff members responsible for the No Child Left Behind Act. Nock has also played key roles in the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act.

Nock previously served as the director of the Commission on No Child Left Behind, a bipartisan, independent effort to improve the No Child Left Behind Act. During his time with the commission, Nock recruited Commission co-chairs Secretary Tommy Thompson and Governor Roy Barnes, as well as the thirteen commission members. Nock managed the completion of the commission’s report, which laid out a comprehensive set of recommendations for improving the No Child Left Behind Act. At the time of issuance, the commission’s report was regarded as the preeminent set of reauthorization recommendations.

Prior to the commission, Nock developed education and social policy on Capitol Hill. He held several positions, including education coordinator for the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce, where he spearheaded all Democratic policy and politics on higher education, elementary and secondary education, workforce and job training, disability policy, and other social service issues. Nock also worked for Rep. Matthew G. Martinez (D-CA), the Human Resources Subcommittee, the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor, and Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD). Nock holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Maryland.

Narric Rome

Narric Rome is vice president of government affairs and arts education at Americans for the Arts and is responsible for promoting the Americans for the Arts message to congress and the administration, with the goal of influencing public policies that advance direct and indirect support for the arts and arts education. He serves as senior lobbyist for the Americans for the Arts legislative portfolio and researches and pursues untapped federal funding opportunities. He also leads the policy planning for the annual Arts Advocacy Day and manages the Americans for the Arts arts education program. Narric has seventeen years experience in the public policy and congressional arena, having worked on the policy staff of Howard Dean’s presidential campaign in Vermont and having served as a legislative aide to Secretary Riley at the US Department of Education. Earlier in his career Narric worked on Capitol Hill at the Podesta Group and on several state and national political campaigns. Narric holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Vermont and a master’s in public administration from Columbia University.

Sydney Sidwell

Sydney Sidwell is associate director for Ingenuity Incorporated, an organization that works to ensure all Chicago Public Schools students, from the day they start until the day they graduate, will receive quality arts education at every grade level. Previously, Sidwell served as senior program officer for education and director of administration of the Lloyd A. Fry Foundation in Chicago.

While at the Fry Foundation, she co-chaired The Chicago Arts Learning Initiative, a collaborative civic effort to plan and build infrastructure to support and sustain access to arts education for all Chicago public school students. Prior to working with the Fry Foundation, she served as program officer and research analyst with The Joyce Foundation. At the Joyce Foundation she oversaw the first two years of The Joyce Awards, a competition designed to help Midwest cultural institutions commission work by artists of color. Sidwell is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse and holds a master’s degree from Rosary College in Lake Forest, IL.