Updated NASAA Member Directory

Friday, February 29, 2008

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Executive Director's COlumn

NASAA Executive Director Jonathan Katz

I want to draw your attention to a new national survey of 1,000 likely voters that indicates great potential support for candidates who advocate arts education in connection with cultivating the imagination and stimulating innovation. The demonstration that a clear path to public value can be established by connecting the experience of arts learning to the cognitive capacity of the imagination to the educational outcome of innovation is important news, especially for those of us who have experienced frustration with the low value the general public often ascribes to the terms "arts" and "culture," as well as its constantly surprising lack of connection between the arts and "creativity." Linking an education in and through the arts with the development of the imagination brings together constituencies who value educational advancement for a 21st century environment, economic competitiveness, quality of life, and civic engagement.

The Imagine Nation

The survey - commissioned by the Arts Education Partnership and conducted by Lake Research Partners - identifies an "imagine nation" constituency: 30% of American voters who believe that "incorporating building the capacities of the imagination into core courses is extremely critical." That is, they agreed at 10, on a 1-10 scale. The survey also shows that the "imagine nation" reflects the perceptions of majorities of likely voters who reject the idea that basics and technology alone prepare students for success, and believe that the arts make a major contribution to developing the imagination, learning to set goals, respecting multiple values and perspectives, and participating in a group or being a team player. Significantly, more than half (54%) of the core "imagination" constituency is made up of swing voters who self-identify as neither a strong Republican nor a strong Democrat.

Central Findings


According to a national poll released in November 2007 by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, a majority of survey respondents believe that schools need to do a better job of keeping up with changing educational needs. This mirrors earlier findings released by the Conference Board in 2006 citing that nearly three-fourths of business leaders surveyed ranked "creativity/innovation as among the top five applied skills projected to increase in importance for future graduates." Building on these ideas, the new "imagine nation" research provides additional insight into how Americans think imagination and innovation should be cultivated by schools.

The "imagine nation" initiative of the Arts Education Partnership (AEP) has convened a broad coalition of national, state and local organizations to restore imagination and innovation as key outcomes of learning. Support has been provided by the National Education Association (NEA), the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), and NAMM, the International Music Products Association. Support for site development work is provided by The George Gund Foundation. AEP receives basic funding from the U.S. Department of Education and the National Endowment for the Arts, and is co-managed by NASAA and the Council of Chief State School Officers.

How to Act on this Information

Here are some suggestions:

More Information

I highly recommend the report and resource list entitled Moving America's Children Beyond Average: Imagination and the 21s Century Education, which you can locate by clicking on "resources" at http://www.theimaginenation.net/resources/tinresources_casestatement.pdf.

I'm also pleased to note that NASAA and AEP have produced a second printing of Critical Evidence: How the ARTS Benefit Student Achievement. Bulk rates are purposefully low in response to high demand for meetings and statewide conferences. For information, visit http://www.nasaa-arts.org/publications/critical-evidence.shtml.

As always, I'm interested in your comments, questions and ideas.