Congratulations to the George Rodrigue Foundation for the Arts and to LSU for hosting the recent A+ Schools workshop, as reflected in the letter from Dr. Laurence Kaptain published in The Advocate – Readers’ Views on July 3.
I am disappointed, however, to note that one might think incorporating the arts in education is a new idea to Louisiana. A rich heritage of arts-in-education already exists in Louisiana. For example, the Baton Rouge Center for Visual and Performing Arts was founded in 1996. The St. Tammany Parish Schools adopted arts-in-education concepts at the same time, to list a few. These schools are nationally recognized for academic achievement.
The arts-in-education movement began in the early 1980s when the Getty Art Education Institute in California developed teacher training to incorporate the visual art in teaching language arts, mathematics, science and social studies. This method was known as Discipline Based Arts Education (DBAE). The name has changed over the years, but the concepts remain the same.
Later in the 1980s, Getty established nationwide institutes to train teachers across the country. One institute is the Southeast Center for Education in the Arts (SCEA) at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. The SCEA added music and theatre to the program.
Louisiana entered the picture in 1993, when educators from several parishes attended the SCEA Summer Institute and returned to Louisiana to set the wheels in motion. In 1996, the Louisiana Institute for Education in the Arts (LAIEA) was established. In 1997, LAIEA presented its first Summer Institute in New Orleans, training nearly 200 participants from several Southeastern states. In 1998, LAIEA created a dance institute. From 1998 —- 2000 LAIEA presented workshops in New Orleans.
In 2000, LAIEA became independent from the SCEA and developed its own content material. From 2000 until July 2005, LAIEA continued the summer workshops in New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Then, in 2005, LAIEA disappeared with Hurricane Katrina.
For eight years, LAIEA trained hundreds of educators, administrators and artists-in-residence from many states. These participants continue to engage thousands of students in enriched learning experiences that strengthen understanding of not only the arts, but other content areas as well, leading to strong academic achievement.
On behalf of my many colleagues, and most of all on behalf of the students of Louisiana schools, I heartily commend the George Rodrigue Foundation for the Arts for stepping up to continue support for arts-in-education heritage in Louisiana. I also commend former LSU Chancellor Michael Martin for providing the necessary university support. Hopefully the research from this project will provide statistical verification for the validity of arts-in-education. Though LAIEA is gone, it is good to know that our arts-in-education heritage in Louisiana continues to grow.
Jan L. Grace, former music coordinator
La. Institute for Education in the Arts