California policymakers have established ambitious goals for arts education, calling on schools to provide a standards-based, sequential course of study in dance, music, theater, and visual arts. Yet An Unfinished Canvas, a report by SRI International, revealed that an overwhelming majority of California schools fail to meet these guidelines and that key barriers include inadequate and unstable funding, insufficient instructional time, and limited teacher capacity.
New studies look more closely at these barriers, finding that to reach the goals we’ve set, we need to make significant changes in the overall level and stability of funding, increase the amount of available instructional time, and invest in building the district infrastructure and teacher capacity to deliver standards-based arts instruction.
The budget realities that drive policy discussions may make the arts seem like a luxury. However, California has very clear goals for arts education, and there is a tremendous gap between what’s happening in schools and what is called for by state policy.