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Alexander Offers More Details on 'Arts Partnership'

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WASHINGTON--Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander last week offered more details of his evolving plan for an "America 2000 arts partnership'' to strengthen arts education in the nation's schools.

Speaking before the President's Committee on Arts and the Humanities here, Mr. Alexander said a major part of his strategy is to encourage members of the arts community to help develop national standards for student achievement in the arts.

He also said he is considering establishing a national center on arts education to help define and support the new standards, and a clearinghouse to disseminate information on successful arts-education programs nationally.

Those efforts come in addition to Mr. Alexander's plan, announced earlier this month, for a national network that would work to strengthen arts education in the 1,000 school communities participating in President Bush's America 2000 plan for reforming education. (See Education Week, March 18, 1992.)

The initiatives come amid continuing criticism from the arts community over the failure of national education-reform efforts to recognize arts education. Critics contend that by focusing on only five subjects--English, geography, history, mathematics, and science--those efforts make it easy for schools to ignore the arts.

"I can't imagine any school that only has those five subjects,'' Mr. Alexander said, responding to such concerns. "Maybe it's good that everybody got stirred up to make sure the arts are not left out, and certainly they're not.''

Commission members reacted positively to Mr. Alexander's announcement. Some expressed doubts, however, that the efforts were adequate.

Leonard Garment, a former Nixon Administration aide and Washington lawyer active on arts issues who also addressed the group, said it was not enough to point out that the arts were not excluded.

"That's been precisely the problem for 20 years with arts and humanities education being absorbed in the education system,'' he said.--D.V.

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