Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County (AHCMC)

Survey Question: Arts Education

Arts education is vital to preparing students for a 21st century workforce that demands creativity and innovation skill sets. Research suggests a correlation between arts education and improved academic performance among all students but especially at-risk and special needs students. While we understand that MCPS controls its own budget as it pertains to its curricular choices, what would you do to ensure that the arts and humanities are integrated and institutionalized into K-12 public education?

Roger Berliner - County Council - You are right that we cannot control what MCPS does with its budget, but we do have a strong bully pulpit to advocate for the need for more arts in our classroom as councilmembers. I have, and will continue, to encourage the superintendent and Board of Education to make arts and humanities opportunities in our schools a high priority. I am a strong believer in a well-rounded education that speaks to the multiple intelligences of each student. Unfortunately, the national trend has been focused on test taking and test scores and as a result, the arts and physical education have taken a back seat to what is viewed as the core curricular subjects. I see some positive signs that these trends are shifting and sincerely hope that we are heading in the direction of adding back time in the school day for the arts.

Neda Bolourian - County Council - Arts education plays an integral role in the development of children. I believe that arts education must be integrated into our school system and I would work to offer various forms of art to children. Giving children a means to express themselves positively will further help for healthy development and growth.

Beth Daly - County Council - I strongly believe in educating the whole child, including engaging the creative components of their brains. Given that MCPS controls its own budget and curricular choices, the most important roles the County Council can play in ensuring arts and humanities are integrated and institutionalized into K-12 public education is through continued and expanded support for complementary programs that incentivize students to pursue arts and humanities in their regular curriculum. Examples of these are competitive programs that engage students across schools, such as the Maryland Classic Youth Orchestra, the Maryland Youth Ballet and the After School Dance Fund. I would also welcome more information on the effectiveness of the Arts Integration Residency Program that infuses arts into academic curriculum, and would consider support for expanding this grant program so that it is available in more schools - beyond the eight schools that received such grants in 2014. I welcome further ideas and input on this matter.

Marc Elrich - County Council - We can't "ensure" that they are institutionalized as MCPS has complete authority over how they spend their money, what's in the curriculum and how much time is dedicated to participation in different activities. We speak out in support of arts, we fund the arts and programs that integrate with schools and, in general, we facilitate the accessibility of arts and arts programming to the schools (Strathmore is one good example.) But "ensure" is too strong a word for what we can legally do.

Nancy Floreen - County Council - I have gotten a MCPS representative to serve on the Strathmore Education subcommittee so that we can align programming; and I encourage MCPS expansion of arts and music initiatives.

Evan Glass - County Council - As a former CNN journalist, I will use my skills of providing oversight to scrutinize the MCPS budget and all public projects to ensure transparency and understanding.

Dick Jurgena - County Council - I would ask the MCPS to report annually as to the percentage of their budget devoted to arts education and react accordingly.

George Leventhal - County Council - Encourage MCPS officials to do so. Support programs outside of MCPS that provide arts education through the AHCMC.

Vivian Malloy - County Council - I believe the current MCPS has established a curriculum that offers our students the ability to explore and learn about the cultural arts and humanities. Our students are encouraged to participate in many opportunities to expose them to be more creative and innovative through various courses, programs, and activities related to the arts and humanities theme messages. We have James Hubert (Eubie) Blake High School that is considered a signature school for Fine Arts and Humanity. As a council member, I will support funding to ensure the continuation of liberal arts curriculum within our school system.

Tom Moore - County Council - According to ASCD, studies show that participating in the arts can boost student achievement in other academic areas as well as school attendance, community service, and personal development. With six kids in our public schools, I have a strong interest in this idea, especially as the arts of all kinds are being squeezed out of school budgets. First, I would be a public advocate for the ideas put forth by groups such as ASCD and Americans for the Arts. Theyíre experts on arts integration in an atmosphere of budget cutting and teaching to the test. Second, to make that work, Iíd encourage public-private partnerships like the Public Arts Trust already managed by AHCMC. My family and I have certainly taken in the art on display all over the county (in and out of the schools and libraries), and as a County Council member I look forward to having a hand in allocating funds for the programís continuation. Can we do something similar with visiting artists? Demonstrations? Concerts? VSA has done important work on how arts education benefits special-needs studentsósome of it a few miles south at the Kennedy Center. The same benefits that accrue to standard-issue kids go double or more for special-needs kids: greater self-worth and self-confidence, increased independence, more developed social skills, better problem-solving and decision-making skills, and so on. These skills and traits are those all parents want to instill in children, and arts education is proven to do just that. Teaching Artists Residency Grants like those AHCMC has funded to send artists and musicians into the schools are one example of how to make this work in a creative if not necessarily long-term way.

Nancy Navarro - County Council - Strongly encourage the Board of Education and the Superintendent to do so

Hans Riemer - County Council - As an incumbent member of the County Council, I have worked to increase funding for our schools. This yearís MCPS budget ñ $2.225 billion ñ is an all-time record. By growing the pie, we can insure that all of our education priorities are well-funded. I also recognize the value of arts education in the form of wrap around services. I believe in positive youth development through artistic empowerment.

Ryan Spiegel - County Council - Councilmembers should not just show up to vote yea or nay on the budget. They should be advocates and ambassadors working closely with the School Board and MCPS to encourage investment in worthy areas such as arts education. This is the approach I will take. I will also continue to lead by example, by attending and participating in arts education programs. Additionally, I believe local government should coordinate the funding of arts competitions and awards programs, as we do with the City of Gaithersburg Young Artists Awards.

Jeffrey Thames - County Council - I would allocate funds independent of the MCPS budget to make sure that every school is able to provide a space for the students that would like to engage in programs are able to do so. Even it requires some of my own money.

Duchy Trachtenberg - County Council - Support more school funding for this specific purpose but also expand support through the Arts and Humanities Council for Teaching Artist-in-Residence efforts in schools with Title I rate of 40% or higher.

Tim Willard - County Council - I would work together with arts and humanities groups to lobby MCPS to increase its budget in that area, just as groups advocating school gardens, local food and healthy lunches have with some success.

Phil Andrews - County Executive - Since the County does not have authority over the curriculum in public schools, I would advocat that the state and local Board of Educations to do so.

Douglas Duncan - County Executive - Across the country communities are changing the STEM program to the STEAM program. And theyíre adding arts to the science and technology and I think itís something that we need to do here in Montgomery County. And no, we donít set the curriculum, but we sure can talk about it and talk about the importance of the arts and arts education. When I was County Executive we started a program where every second grader in the county went to a concert in Strathmore, which was an incredible educational opportunity for all of these children. A lot of hard work went into it and it is good that it is still going on because that is one way to help expose children to the arts. But theyíve got to have it in the classroom, theyíve got to have it in the schoolroom as well and if we can turn STEM into STEAM and add arts in there I think that will make a huge difference. It is also important that our educators understand the importance of the arts on a daily basis throughout our schools. Iím very supportive of that and would love to see Montgomery County lead the way. My vision for this county is that we should be a national center of excellence in everything we do. We should be the best at everything we do. Weíve got the talent, weíve got the resources, and weíve got the people here to do that. We should have the best schools, we should have the best economy, we should have the best environment, and we should have the best transportation system. Weíve got a long way to go but that should be our goal. We should continue to try and be excellent at everything that we do and providing the arts in our schools, having Montgomery County as a leader for the state, the region, and the country I think would be an excellent thing for us to do.

Sidney Katz - County Executive - The County Council can encourage and support events and programs that highlight the arts and humanities for student expression through the arts.

Ike Leggett - County Executive - I have urged the school system about the importance of the arts and humanities in the schools. We as a county need to ensure that we provide the school system with the resources to fully implement a full fledged arts and humanities curriculum into their program. We also need to make sure that there is a strong public awareness of the arts and humanities importance in the broader community, including PTAs, businesses and the arts community so that they can help to facilitate this plan.. Ultimately the plan is one that the school board decides.

Jim Shalleck - County Executive - I would leave these educational decisions to the professionals in education and the teachers.


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