Resetting a Passion for Advocacy

By Annie Howard

As President Elect for the Michigan Art Education Association I recognize that advocating is at the forefront of the work. It is also an important part of being an art educator, but it can often feel like a chore. Recently when attending a town hall meeting hosted by the National Art Education Association (NAEA) I was inspired to reset my passion for arts advocacy.

During the meeting NAEA shared resources and notes of urgency to help motivate members. I found their materials to be a fueling experience and a perfect toolkit for this trying time in arts education. The information included a:

  • Board of Education resolution
  • pledge to join the national movement
  • letter template for writing to legislators
  • list of talking points to support programs
  • budget process guide
  • letter template for local School Boards.

After attending the town hall meeting I was moved to contact my School Board, Legislators, and other arts teachers within my district.  The results of these contacts were highly encouraging.  My State Representative responded immediately, expressing her support of the arts in schools.  She also invited me to come to her with any other concerns or discussions.  The Board of Education passed a resolution in support of the arts in my local district.  The resources from the meeting helped me to formulate effective wording and prompts in communicating to stakeholders in my district and state.  It is my hope that more teachers make use of these resources to aid in the success of advocating for arts education and to stress the importance of their programs and offerings.  Check out these helpful resources: NAEA Advocacy Toolkit and the Arts ARE Education Action Center.

Being familiar with both the NAEA and MAEIA values and missions I find them in total alignment. NAEA “champions creative growth and innovations through equitably advancing the tools and resources for a high quality visual arts education.” MAEIA “offers resources and tools to help districts and school strengthen their systems and advance arts as a core element of a public education.” Both promote quality art education through leadership, service, and professional development. Both are based on the National Art Standards that promote 21st century skill building in arts education. And both serve as a catalyst for developing creative and culturally competent future generations. These two highly regarded organizations offer art educators the opportunity to grow with their students’ needs as both an advocacy and community building effort that is much needed today and well as tomorrow.

With the resources from MAEA, NAEA, and MAEIA, we have solid ammunition to defend our careers and classrooms, to advocate for the importance of arts education, and to help organize our curriculum, instruction, and assessment for incredible learning experiences for our K-12 students.

Annie Howard is a 19-year veteran K-12 art educator from the Adrian Public Schools, an undergraduate instructor, and President Elect of the Michigan Art Education Association. Recently MAEA became a MAEIA partner and Annie is happy to be the representative. Art education is embedded in her lineage and her passion for opening creativity in all children is unending.  

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