Make your presence felt in your local community and on Capitol Hill. As advocates of the visual arts, the NAEA understands how important education of the visual arts is to learners. However, the NAEA understands that much still needs to be done to raise the importance of the visual arts among elected representatives, school boards, parents and local media across the country. It also aims at affecting and influencing critical legislation that would have an effect on the visual arts and visual arts education. The NAEA seeks to be a voice for art literacy and wants to provide equal access to a quality arts education to students all over the country.
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The NAEA encourages members to be active members of their communities and advocate the cause of the visual arts wherever they go. It encourages members to communicate a clear and concise message, make themselves known to decision makers and use the power of an advocacy network to their advantage.
Every advocate should be aware of new legislations affecting the visual arts in their community. The House of Representatives recently approved a piece of legislation that would provide over $146 million in funding to the visual arts in 2016. This would represent a 5th year of funding for the NEA if this piece of legislation would be to be officially approved by Congress.
Advocates should also read the NAEA unified statement and use it to create a connection between their community and federal legislation that would promote the teaching of visual arts. The unified statement was created by the NAEA and various other national arts education groups to promote the arts as part of the Every Student Succeeds Act.
NAEA Platform and Position Statements
The NAEA believes that visual literacy or the ability to process, present and create visual art should be part of the Common Core curriculum and state and national educational standards. While children learning how to paint and draw is recommended, this concept includes the ability to create infographics and presentations on Powerpoint. Students must be allowed to not only present but create their own visual artistic works so they can learn how to communicate their ideas.
The NAEA holds the position that visual literacy is closely tied to the critical thinking, evidence-based reasoning, and meaning-making requirements in Common Core. A more practical note in this position statement was a call to teach students about intellectual property and the rules and restrictions regarding its use. It suggests teaching students how to ethically use material as part of visual literacy education.
The NAEA calls for more funding of art education at all levels. It believes fine arts should be a requirement for high school graduation along with the theater arts. It believes art should have an equal place with STEM subjects to the point it calls for STEAM instead of STEM to be taught as well as equal levels of funding.
For example, the NAEA believes art and design principles should be taught in addition to physics and engineering. It thinks that STEAM education should be implemented through a variety of approaches. It believes that in order to be proficient in STEM, students require a strong visual art education. Its belief is that this will improve students’ problem solving skills and creative thinking, something that many business owners cite as a critical skill. For STEAM education, the NAEA believes art instructors should work with non-art instructors and community based arts organizations.
The ESSA reflects this in the broadening of Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants to include art as part of STEM education. It also renewed 21st Century Community Learning Center funding for arts and music education.
The NAEA believes art teachers should work with local cultural organizations to help them express themselves and connect art to their goals, as well as to teach students and art teachers sensitivity to various groups. It also warns against cultural appropriation. The NAEA seeks diversity in the art education field of all types, such as recruiting non-white instructors and accommodating art teachers with all kinds of disability.
The NAEA believes the art classroom must be able to support all students, including the disabled and non-English speaking. It reiterated in 2017 that the art classroom must be kept safe and that the ideal class size is 20 to 25 students.
Arts Education for America’s Students
The NAEA and various other art education advocacy groups released Arts Education for America’s Students: A Shared Endeavor, a statement that calls for state officials to reexamine their position regarding the importance and quality of arts education in schools across the country.
The goal of this statement is to bring light to the importance of the visual arts to young students, why visual arts should be part of every school curriculum, why it should be a core academic subject and how sequential arts learning can be enforced by strict national standards and assessments. The statement was created as a response to the general dismissal of visual arts as a valid course in schools across the country and the sweeping under the rug of arts education as a result of various budget cuts.
The statement defines exactly what quality arts education should consist of at a local level and seeks to reach partnerships between community leaders, officials and school boards. It also pushes for revised policies on arts education, equal access to a quality arts education to all students and collaboration between school educators, subject area teachers and local community based artists to further the cause of visual arts and improve the quality and scope of the visual arts education provided to students.