The KIDS CHALK ART PROJECT is an example of the essential role of the artist in our communities and our schools. For the last 40 years, there has been basically no arts education in our public schools, save for sporadic music programs frequently funded by local Parent Teacher Associations, or visual and performing arts programs funded through special grants with and through community arts organizations.

Today there is historic funding in the state budget, as Governor Schwarzenegger and the California State legislature have recognized that our public schools need to broaden the narrow focus on math, language arts and improving test scores. It is simply not good enough for our children. The needs of the 21st century workforce call for citizens who can collaborate, solve problems and design new solutions. Healthy communities require young people with hope, imagination, compassion and creativity.

109 million dollars in the state budget this year is being dispersed throughout the state and all of the school districts in Alameda County are creating district wide arts learning plans. Alameda Unified School district is developing a district wide visual and performing arts plan to bring learning in and through the arts to every child in every school every day, under the leadership of Superintendent Ardella Dailey and Assistant Superintendent Debbie Wong. They are receiving support and coaching from the Alameda County Office of Education.

But bringing arts learning into our schools will take more than an influx of new dollars. Many of our public school teachers have had little or no experience in the arts in their own educations or teacher preparation. Many community members may not understand why the arts in schools matter so much and why we should come together as a community to address this gap.

The KIDS CHALK ART PROJECT is a public art experience that invites all our children to learn new skills to express their creativity and ideas, for every child to experience success and recognition, and for the community to see the imagination of our young people become visible in Alameda. We must recognize the learning needs of every child and provide a well-rounded education that develops the opportunity for every child to engage in school, persist through problems, observe the world around them deeply, and make new meaning.

Mark Wagner has designed a project to help students, parents teachers and community members glimpse the potential of every child in Alameda and generate new hope for what is possible in our schools and in our shared future.

It will take a legion of artists, like Mark Wagner, dedicated to bringing the opportunity and right to full human expression through the arts to every child in every school. The Alameda County Office of Education is partnering with our local school districts to prepare artists to work with teachers to integrate arts learning into our educational environments and aim it at the learning in science, history and math required, so that every child has the opportunity to learn in the way he or she learns best.

Louise Music – Arts Learning Coordinator
Project Director, Alliance for Arts Learning Leadership
Alameda County Office of Education
Art is Education