Arts will be woven into Maryland's top 10 educational goals, state Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick told a group of artists and educators Wednesday at the Howard County Center for the Arts.
More than 150 artists, teachers, and administrators from around the state attended the fifth annual Arts-in-Education Artists/Teachers Conference, sponsored by the Howard County Arts Council.
Ms. Grasmick and Doug Herbert, acting director of the Arts in Education Program at the National Endowment for the Arts, described the role art plays in school reform.
"Education is an engine relative to the reform movement," said Ms. Grasmick.
She encouraged change through collaborative partnerships between state and local arts organizations and schools.
"Education cannot do this alone," Ms. Grasmick said. "It must create partnerships."
Mr. Herbert applauded the integration of arts in the state's 10-point plan, which establishes goals ranging from school readiness to statewide standards in English, math, history, geography, civics, and other subjects.
"Arts foster a more positive learning environment," Mr. Herbert said.
Ms. Grasmick agreed. "For many children, artistic expression is a natural way to excel," she said.
Arts curriculum will be standardized by a consortium of four organizations: the American Alliance for Theatre and Education, the Music Educators National Conference, the National Art Education Association and the National Dance Association.
Arts education was not the only topic of conversation during themeeting.
Gov. William Donald Schaefer's plans to cut $150 million in state aid from local governments was part of many conversations at the day-long conference. The conference is designed to give participants a chance to discuss issues facing arts educators.
Although Howard County art teachers said the school system has supported arts in the past, they fear more budget cuts will force the system to abandon arts.
Superintendent Michael E. Hickey has always supported the arts, but County arts teachers will have to work to convince officials that their curriculum is as important as English and math, said Patti Battaglia, art teacher at Clemens Crossing Elementary.
"It's not a frill," Ms. Battaglia said. "We're out there trying to help children learn to see and hear their environment."