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These days, news moves at breakneck speed. There are new stories, happenings, and initiatives to follow every day. And that’s on top of all of the changes happening at the local level regarding school openings and closings. With so much going on, it can be almost impossible to keep up!
That’s why we wanted to highlight one piece of news we think all teachers should know about—the release of the American Rescue Plan.
In reaction to the impact of COVID-19, The American Rescue Plan is the broad, $1.9 trillion federal funding package that includes provisions for businesses, individuals, public health, state and local governments. While it is called a plan and not a giveaway, it includes $128 billion explicitly dedicated to education to help schools reopen safely and address the various impacts of COVID-19. With the right information and approach, art education can and should take advantage of this unique opportunity for funding and support for their programs.
In late March 2020, an economic relief package of over $2 trillion, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, was passed by Congress with overwhelming, bipartisan support and signed into law. This federal spending helped ease the burden and changes due to the impacts of COVID-19 for millions of Americans, including K-12 schools.
The CARES Act was the equivalent of an “everything must go” sale in education. Districts rushed to procure curriculum, resources, support, and technology with a wad of cash, not knowing what they would find. In a hurry, many districts purchased resources regardless of their actual relevance in the classroom because it was a good deal.
However, the American Rescue Plan is like having a personal shopper help identify what would be good for districts based on student and community needs. Districts can work with the funding and their community to acquire what they will actually use and want in the short and long term. Instead of impulse buying, it is planned and intentional.
With this new flush of funding, the focus is not emergency education but emergent education. Instead of reacting, this funding allows education to recalibrate for the better. That is where art education steps in.
With their focus on creativity, social-emotional learning, and the ability to reconnect students to the school and community, art teachers directly address the past year’s impact.
These particular funds provide a unique opportunity for communities. Unlike the CARES Act, communities have more control over what they deem essential. If your community sees the visual arts as an essential way to cope with and heal from the trauma of this past year, you may be able to get funding for your program. If your school gets funding, the benefits should be reaped by all departments, including yours!
More specifically, you may be able to get funding for things to help you reach your students, like customized professional development and a flexible curriculum.
State governors, state legislators, and community leaders are more willing than ever to listen to teachers. You have seen the direct impact of COVID-19 on your students. AOEU’s FLEX Curriculum and PRO Learning are exactly what you need to continue teaching and learning to the highest degree. Perhaps you thought since your curriculum cycle is passed, you cannot request FLEX Curriculum. Or that you already spent professional development funds to attend a conference earlier this year, and PRO Learning is not an option. With The American Rescue Plan, you can. It opens the window you thought might be closed.
With its growing Lesson Collections, FLEX Curriculum allows students and teachers to communicate, collaborate, and create artwork based on the National Core Art Standards. Collections like Empowering Identity in Art, Heroes and Leaders, and Integrating STEAM can be integrated into an LMS so teachers can reach learners wherever they are. FLEX is designed to maximize their creativity and flexibility while providing the highest standard of lesson inspiration, resources, and assessments. FLEX Curriculum gives teachers the ability to focus on healing the impact of COVID-19 through student relationships and cultivating a supportive classroom environment instead of frantically and reactively planning curriculum.
PRO Learning empowers art educators to give the best knowledge and experience to their students. With PRO Learning, teachers can have a more significant impact in their classrooms. Various important topics, like Developing Engaging Projects for Online Learning, Social-Emotional Learning, and Storytelling Through Art, will sharpen your abilities and strategies to better address your students’ creative needs and stories.
The American Rescue Plan provides an opportunity for art educators to get ahead of the impacts of COVID-19 and meet students where they need the most support. By advocating for your program and making smart choices about this funding, you can have a lasting impact on the students you serve now and those you will serve in the future.
What else is important to know about The American Rescue Plan?
How could you use the funding allocated in the plan for your own classroom?