Sunday, November 2, 2014

He Who Controls Education Policy Controls Children's Learning Outcomes

Do schools provide children with well-rounded educational opportunities? Are teachers forced to design curriculum around tests? Or children? What kinds of educational experience are emphasized in schools today? Are children's voices considered in the design of curriculum? Or, does the spectre of teacher evaluations and A-F school evaluations based on machine graded tests dominate children's daily learning experience? Who is responsible for the current educational landscape emphasizing restrictive, punitive measures against children and educators?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

2014 Youth Art Month at the Indiana State Capitol!

Lots of families with their student-artists today! A great crowd I'd estimate around 600 or so!
Proud parents take snapshots of their student-artists!
A great group of artists from all around the State of Indiana pose with 2013 Indiana Teacher of The Year Suzanne Whitton!
Indianapolis Public Schools art teacher Ms. Said poses with her student.

2013 Indiana Teacher of the Year Suzanne Whitton addresses the audience.
Mindy Stephenson and Kheira Adda are co-chairs of Youth Art Month and preside over this years event.
My sincerest thanks to Mindy Stephenson and Kheira Adda for putting together an outstanding exhibition and advocacy event! Everything was just wonderful! My sincerest thanks to AEAI President Sidney Allen for her stewardship of AEAI during troubled educational times. Also my sincerest thanks to Bev Staub for her guidance and support in facilitating another outstanding YAM event! What a great time had by our artist-learners and their parents! Just a wonderful event!

Here are my comments to the audience: I wanted to talk to you today about the arts and the formation of the mind, but my students at New Palestine Elementary tell me I take up too much of their art time because I talk too much so I will try to be brief.

200 years ago, in the town of Dole, France, there was a boy who was born to poorly educated parents.

Early on, he was not very astute in academics, however, he showed an immense interest in drawing and painting. He devoted much of his early life to art and at one time considered work as a professional portrait painter. 

As he grew, his interests turned to science, and later he decided to use his powers of imagination in science laboratories. This former art student would go on to a spectacular career in bio-chemistry and is responsible for developing numerous scientific breakthroughs in germ theory, the science of vaccination and pasteurization. 

Of course I am talking about Louis Pasteur. Pasteur credited his early art training as providing him with the capacity to envision cellular activity at microscopic levels. On the relationship of art and science Pasteur said, “The illusions of the experiment form the greater part of my power!”

Art making has immense psycho-dynamic power to imbue in children the attributes of imagination, observation, intellect and perception that will serve them well into their adulthood. 

Think about it. The only subject in school that is a bonafide medical therapy is art. Art is powerful stuff. Art is science! 95% of the World’s top STEM professionals all have fine arts backgrounds. 

High quality art education programs for Indiana children is a good thing!

Unfortunately, I leave you with sad news today. Throughout Indiana schools we have witnessed art program cuts. Children’s creativity development opportunities have been reduced. High quality art programs are at risk across this state. Real dollars reaching Indiana classrooms have declined since 2002 by at least 20%. 

As a powerful parent or citizen advocate, I urge you to advocate for your children’s art program, please contact your state legislators at WWW.IN.GOV. Send your federal legislators, your governor and your president a loud and clear message either by telephone, snail mail or email to adequately fund Indiana public schools and preserve fine arts programs for your children and our future. 

We cannot afford future failures of imagination! I thank you!


Here is video of the presentations: 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Network for Public Education Calls for Congressional Investigation on Overuse of Standardized Testing


Is there too much standardized testing taking place across the country? Absolutely! The affect of the overuse and mis-use of standardized testing is having an absolutely devastating affect on education in this country. Standardized testers are all about test performance but don't care at all about the process and complexities of learning and what that means for individual children. This is problematic because it means children are objectified and their unique capacities as human beings are marginalized. There is no reason to utilize creativity in the classroom with the emphasis on standardized testing because test data is all that matters. Art programs have been marginalized or cut since Indiana adopted the test-first-ask-questions-later approach to education policy making. I urge teachers, parents and concerned citizens to consider supporting this call for US Congressional investigations of the mis-use and over-use of standardized testing. Contact your congressman here: http://www.usa.gov/Contact/US-Congress.shtml

Saturday, February 1, 2014

My Response To Indiana State Senators on SB322


With Representative Lutz of Anderson on Arts Advocacy Day who was in no mood to talk.
Photo by Vicki Hardaman, AARC

My letter to Indiana State Senators after my visit to the State Capital on Arts Advocacy Day: 
As you can see from the figures in the attachment, ( New Palestine Schools State funding: 2007: $18,700,000.00; 2014: $18,677,150.00) funding for my school district, Southern Hancock Schools, has remained stagnant since 2006. The answer I have received from several of you when I mention this fact in conversation is that we are in a recession. That may be true. But the real reason over 50% of public school districts are in similar financial straits and operating on bare-bones bread and water diet, is that many of you don't believe in Indiana public education. Private school vouchers, initiated through this legislative body, have taken a huge chunk out of Indiana public education funding ($81,000,000.00 in 2013).

Those of us who are public education advocates have seen a pattern of policy and funding initiatives emerge from this legislative body that have done much harm to children who attend Indiana public schools. An intensification of high stakes testing, narrowing of the curricula, cuts to fine arts, physical education, school libraries and trans-disciplinary learning opportunities have led to diminished intellectual growth of children in Indiana schools and lowered the capacities of Indiana schools to develop cognitive ability in children.

Preparing children to take standardized high stakes tests, does not develop cognitive ability. Cognitive ability is developed when children are provided a wide range of learning opportunities in school and are afforded time to develop social and emotional connections to those subject areas. What this body has done over the past several years with implementation of high stakes testing mandates has turned our public schools into test prep factories. Now we see the possible passage of SB322.

The idea that voucher schools could take taxpayer money for private tuition but not be held to the same standardized high stakes testing accountability rules as Indiana Public Schools should outrage every Hoosier Taxpayer.

I urge you to reject SB322.

I thank you for your time. 

Friday, January 31, 2014

ACTION ALERT! If You Care About Comprehensive Fine Arts Education Programs in Indiana Public Schools Act Now!


81 million dollars of much needed tax support were diverted away from 1.1 million children attending Indiana public schools to private schools in Indiana through vouchers last year. What does that mean? Higher class sizes. Narrowed curriculum offerings. Cuts to the fine arts. 

There are two senate voucher expansion bills shaping up in the State Capital that Indiana citizens should keep an eye on. The first item is Senate Bill 322. If this bill is enacted, any private school that accepts vouchers can be exempt from taking the ISTEP. That means more private schools can accept public money and not be held to the same accountability standards as public schools, while at the same time drawing funds away from public schools. This bill was curtailed somewhat during a committee hearing today, but could impact school funding in the future. 

Another bill to keep an eye on is SB 282. This bill provides vouchers for special education students in schools that do not provide facilities as directed by the Americans With Disabilities Act. I urge you to contact your state senator to reject this bill in it's entirety. Further cuts to public school funding could have a catastrophic effect on fine arts funding. Legislators know they can dictate the curriculum because they control school and educator evaluations and they control funding. 

Vouchers, if allowed to continue to take a bite out of public education, will impact what public schools can offer in the curriculum. Read more about senate bills 322 and 282 here.Politicians elected to legislative bodies can change the educational landscape any time they are in session. It is important to keep an eye on politicians. As a citizen of the United States it is extremely important to participate in the democratic process. I urge you to contact your state senator and tell them to REJECT SB 322 and SB 282 here:

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Education Deformers Advocating for the Intensification of High Stakes Testing Don't Really Give A Crap

It's true! Despite overwhelming scientific evidence that the arts and other multi sensory, trans-disciplinary learning experiences that connect at a deep emotional level do in fact promote cognitive growth like no other educational experience, the corporate education deformers who make education policy do not care if the arts are cut, class sizes increased or children's curricular learning activities mechanized and narrowed.

Please consider joining me on January 27th, 2014 Monday afternoon as AEAI participates again with the Indiana Coalition of the Arts annual Advocacy Day event at the Indiana State Capitol.

Contact me at campak14@yahoo.com if you are planning to attend and I guarantee we will provide you with every opportunity to express your thoughts on the importance of arts education and it's impact on children's intellectual growth directly to your legislators.
The ruling polyarchy and opulent minority who heavily influence education policy in the U.S. advocating for high stakes testing have yet to provide a conception of the human mind and a rationale as to why one size fits all standardized assessments that do in fact drive educational experience in our nation's schools are good for developing intellectual growth in cognitively diverse populations of children.



Tuesday, January 7, 2014

How Much Will Indiana Public Schools Lose From Pence Corporate Tax Cuts?

About $150,000,000. per year.  What about libraries and other municipal government services? Try another $200,000,000. You can read more and take action here: