Title I Funding and Arts Education

Stephanie Kistner blogs for Arts for LA




Why We Should (and can!) Advocate for Title I Funds to Support Arts Education in Public Schools

by Stephanie Kistner, Education & Programs Assistant at PS Arts




“The arts are an essential element of education, just like reading, writing, and arithmetic…music, dance, painting, and theater are all keys that unlock profound human understanding and accomplishment.”  
                                                                                                 –William Bennett, Former US Secretary of Education

Not so long ago, arts education classes were standard in public schools, benefiting many students from many different backgrounds. Today, that’s a different story.

GV - Tamie Smith w_ student - Grand View Family Night 09-10- A - 10Grand View Boulevard Elementary School, located in the Los Angeles Unified School District, is home to 739 students, 76.5% of whom receive free or reduced lunch. That means that the majority of Grand View’s student population is living at or below the Federal Poverty Line.

In a school with such a highly disadvantaged student population, and in an economy that is forcing even wealthy schools to cut their arts programs, one would think that these students wouldn’t have access to sequential, high-quality arts education. Yet, they do. How is this possible?

Grand View Boulevard Elementary has been able to allocate a portion of the Title I funds they receive to support integrated arts education programming at their school provided in part through non-profit arts education provider, P.S. ARTS.

Title I funds are available to schools that have over 40% of their student population living at or below the Federal Poverty Level and are intended to help students achieve proficiency on state academic achievement standards and to ensure equal access to high quality education.

Being able to allocate Title I funds to support arts programming can give students who normally wouldn’t have access to arts education a chance to participate in the arts and take advantage of the benefits it has to offer.

Besides the intrinsic value of exposure to the arts, access to arts education has been shown to benefit students by:

  • Leveling the playing field for at-risk students
  • Increasing levels of academic achievement
  • Lowering dropout rates
  • Encouraging civic engagement
  • Developing future job skills

A high-quality arts education program, like the one provided to Grand View Boulevard Elementary through P.S. ARTS, can fulfill the purpose of Title I funding by ensuring that all students have equal access to high-quality education, including arts education.

GV - Sand art project - Grand View Family Night 09-10 - A - 10Not only do students benefit from the intrinsic value of exposure to the arts, but quality programs also help students identify connections between the arts and core subjects like language arts, social studies, math and science, giving students an edge in achieving proficiency on state academic achievement standards.

According to the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities in their recently published report, Reinvesting in Arts Education, students who are most likely to benefit from arts education, socio-economically disadvantaged students, such as Title I students, are the same students that are least likely to have access to it.

What can we as advocates for the arts, (parents, teachers, artists, art lovers) do to help ensure that all students, even those attending Title I schools, have access to high-quality arts education?
The task of paying for arts education has largely fallen on the already overtaxed shoulders of our PTAs and booster clubs, turning the public school system into a private school model of, “your child can have access to a high quality, well rounded education, but only if you pay for it.” PTAs and Booster Clubs do an excellent job of raising money to support arts education and other enrichment programs, but we can do more!

Does the school in your community receive Title I funds? If so, begin advocating.

Besides advocating at a national or state level, you can take your advocacy to your local school and advocate for the use of Title I funds to support arts education programming.

Grand View studentsHow to begin advocating:
It’s easier to begin advocating for the use of Title I funds to support arts education at your school than you might think. One way to start is by contacting your school’s secretary and arranging a meeting with the PTA to discuss creating an arts education initiative at your school. Another way is to set up a meeting with your school’s principal to discuss how important arts education is, and how you can begin advocating for more arts in your school.

For more ways to begin advocating for Title I funds to support arts education at your school, check out this one-sheet (pdf).

Because, the only way to get more art in schools, is to ask for more art in schools!



Stephanie Kistner serves as the Education and Programs Assistant at P.S. ARTS, an organization dedicated to restoring arts education to public schools throughout Southern and Central California. Previously, Stephanie has worked with such organizations as the Museum of Modern Art, the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, and most recently as a youth development officer with the Peace Corps working to integrate arts education into classrooms in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.



Photos (provided by blogger): P.S. ARTS Teaching Artist Tamie Smith and student from Grand View Boulevard Elementary School, LAUSD, enjoying a Family Night art project; Students and parents from Grand View Elementary School, LAUSD, at a Family Night art event, engaging their minds through arts education.