At the April 10 School Board meeting, Santa Ana Unified School District declared its dedication to equity in arts education.

The Santa Ana Unified School Board adopted the Declaration of the Rights of All Students to Equity in Arts Learning to demonstrate its commitment to providing students with a comprehensive, well-rounded education. Arts education – including dance, music, theatre, and visual and media arts – promotes critical thinking and problem-solving skills and supports overall academic achievement, with benefits such as improved test scores and higher attendance rates.

Credit: Santa Ana Business Council

The Declaration outlines all students’ rights to have access to high-quality public arts education, regardless of their background, culture, language or geographic location.  In the resolution, The Board of Education recognizes the powerful impact that an arts curriculum has in the cognitive and social development of students and its role as an essential component of a comprehensive education.

Now that the Santa Ana Unified School Board has adopted the Declaration, we will take the following actions to signal our commitment to a creative education for students:

  • Ask all staff members to encourage students to participate in visual and performing arts courses that will help promote academic achievement, express creativity and support social development
  • Ask staff members to dedicate appropriate resources – such as utilizing academic materials that align with state standards, creating or adding staff positions and providing suitable facilities that allow our students to participate in visual and performing arts learning.
  • Include the Arts Equity District badge on the district’s website and social media channels.
  • Ask staff to encourage students to participate in arts education as part of their classes and through visual and media arts, music, dance and theatre arts courses.
  • Review our district’s secondary-level schools data in the California Arts Education Data Project to analyze and understand where we currently stand to inform our SAUSD Visual and Performing Arts Strategic Plan.

Adopting the Declaration will ensure that all students in our district have the right to develop their creative and academic potential and that Santa Ana Unified School District schools nurture the skills necessary to excel in college, career and life recognizing California’s creative industries account for 1 out of every 10 jobs in the state, is the third largest economy in the state and 6th in the nation, and boosts our economy by $273 billion dollars annually.

SAUSD Youth doing art at a Triple Threat Workshop Credit: Santa Ana Business Council

 Here are the students’ rights to arts education in student terms:

  • I have the right to participate and succeed in high-quality courses in all the arts disciplines as part of my basic education, regardless of my background, culture, language or place of residence.
  • I have the same right to fully develop my creative potential at every grade level and not be excluded for any reason.
  • I have the right to engage in arts education that reflects, respects and builds on my culture, language and background.
  • I have the right to receive the resources I need to be successful in my arts studies in dance, music, theatre, media and visual arts, including the proper supplies and facilities, and especially qualified teachers and curriculum that honor all cultures and languages.
  • I have the right to be supported by leaders in my community and school who understand the benefits of an arts education to prepare me for college, career and life.
  • I have the right to learn and practice the arts in a positive environment where everyone understands and acts on the knowledge that I am engaging in valuable and important work.

Robyn MacNair is a Visual And Performing Arts Specialist at Santa Ana Unified School District

Opinions expressed in editorials belong to the authors and not Voice of OC.

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