Friday, October 28, 2011

Statement from State Assembly member - Das Williams

In previous posts, I  have commented on the ESEA legislation, better known as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), extensively. I have commented on NCLB in the following posts, and alluded to it in others:
'Update and NCLB'
'Arne Duncan - Boosting Academic Achievement'
'Authentic Learning Experiences'

'Drama in the classroom'
I was quite pleased, as I'm sure all of you were, when President Obama and Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan announced that waivers for NCLB would be given to states, rather than allowing 82% of schools to fail this school year, as had been projected.

As I have also mentioned however, I no longer believe that it is possible to be an arts advocate without also becoming an activist for the arts and getting involved in the political process that regulates arts education in the schools.  For that reason,  I asked a member of the California State Assembly if he would comment on the NCLB waivers and arts education.  Das Williams, Assemblymember for California's 35th district agreed to comment, and today I am pleased to share his statement with you.  Das Williams represents a district that includes substantial portions of Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties.  Das was elected to the Santa Barbara City Council in 2003, and was elected to the state assembly in 2010.    Das has shown strong support for education, healthcare, and environmental concerns, and has authored bills to protect libraries, public health, and public safety.  Das's official state website is <>, and it includes information on current issues facing the state legislature, as well as a useful 'resources' section and more.  Das's unofficial website, which contains additional information and insights (including a link to Eduarts4us) may be found here.

A statement from Assemblymember Das Williams regarding NCLB waivers and arts education;

"I am very much in support of the NCLB waivers, I feel they will provide educators in our state with the much needed flexibility to make the best decisions for our children without the erosion of accountability, however I understand the frustrations expressed by our state schools chief, Tom Torlakson, in regards to the need for school funding.  I share in these frustrations and see a need to fix our system for funding public education.  
California schools have seen $18 billion in cuts over the past four years in state and local funds.  Earlier this month, state controller John Chiang announced the latest revenue figures, which came in below projections, meaning the trigger cuts that are part of (the) budget plan signed by Governor Brown in June, could come into play if we don't meet the $3 billion revenue target. Instead of trigger cuts, we need to push all legislators to support education, but particularly the republicans that have refused to agree to the revenue needed to preserve public education. 
That being said, these NCLB waivers will not directly affect arts education.  As the waivers would only apply to academic areas for which the state already tests.  The most eminant area of concern for arts education in the state comes if we don't meet the revenue projections resulting in further cuts to our states education system."
I thank Das for his comments, - and appreciate his taking the time to respond.  I encourage all of you to contact your local, state, and national representatives to let your views on the importance of the arts in education be known.  Politicians make decisions based on the input and information that they have access to.  Your views and insights will only be considered if you take the time to write or call your local officials.  You may find contact information for your representatives by including your zip code on the "Americans for the Arts" box on the left side-bar of this blog.  They will provide you with contact information for your individual representatives, as well as information on upcoming legislative issues that impact the Arts.

In my last post, I included a video  by the Department of Education, which concluded by asking for your input as the Congress is currently rewriting the NCLB legislation  NO ONE has a right to complain about whatever results from this legislation UNLESS THEY HAVE MADE THEIR VOICES HEARD NOW.  That video, as well as several more showing ways to  improve 'academic areas' through 'Arts Integration" can be found in the JNM Youtube tab on the header bar of this blog.  Once on the Youtube channel, go to the playlists and look at some of the excellent videos on arts advocacy and arts integration that have been produced recently, and are recommended there.

Until Next time
Ron Zell

(c) 2011 by Eduarts4us. All rights reserved.

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