February 1, 2011
In July 2010, working with a nonprofit organization called Big Thought, officials at the Dallas IndependentSchool District embarked on an approach to summer school they hoped would change the image from one of punishment and failure and engage kids. The idea was to support teachers, artists, and others to replace worksheet-style instruction with teaching animated by music, visual arts, dance, and theater.The new arts-rich summer school program that resulted is just another sign of Dallas' initiative, spearheaded by BigThought (www.bigthought.org), to bring together schools, cultural organizations, and others to restore high-quality arts instruction to the many classrooms from which it has long been missing. "What's the goal of education: to assess kids or prepare them for life?" asks Craig Welle, executive director of enrichment curriculum and instruction for the Dallas Independent School District. "If you've taken the arts out of the education system, you are no longer preparing kids for life."This report talks about the history of arts education funding and the success of the Dallas initiative.