PUBLISHED: 5:05 PM on Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Alaska chosen as one of five states to participate in first round of Education Leaders Institute
Alaska is one of five state teams to participate in the first national Education Leaders Institute sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Illinois Arts Council. The other states chosen to participate are Kentucky, Nebraska, North Carolina and Wisconsin. The Education Leaders Institute will be held in March 2008 in Chicago.

The Alaska team, coordinated by the Alaska State Council on the Arts, is comprised of Carol Comeau, superintendent of the Anchorage School District; Esther Cox, chair, Alaska State Board of Education; Annie Calkins, Juneau, former assistant superintendent of Juneau School District; Reggie Joule, Kotzebue, Alaska State Representative and education advocate; Scott McAdams, Sitka, president of the Alaska Association of School Boards, and Charlotte Fox, executive director of the Alaska State Council on the Arts.

While there is increasing support for arts education in the K-12 curriculum, it remains on the margins in many schools. To help put more muscle behind the mandates for arts education, these five multidisciplinary teams from states across the country will receive NEA support to discuss arts education challenges and jointly develop strategies to strengthen their state's arts education policies and programs.

The five teams were selected by a panel convened by the Arts Endowment in partnership with the Illinois Arts Council. These state teams will discuss a shared arts education challenge, such as assessment, leadership in arts education, curriculum development, and access to arts learning. As participants exchange ideas, plans for innovative partnerships and programs are expected to emerge, coupled with renewed commitment to arts education at the school-district level. A professional evaluation firm will conduct an independent assessment of the workshop, and an executive summary of the evaluation findings will be available to the public.

The NEA Education Leaders Institute is modeled on the successful Mayors' Institute of City Design, a 20-year partnership program of the National Endowment for the Arts, The U.S. Conference of Mayors, and the American Architectural Foundation. Since 1986, more than 700 mayors and hundreds of design professionals have attended design institutes dealing with urban planning issues such as downtown and waterfront developments, transportation, housing, schools, and public facilities. The NEA Education Leaders Institute seeks to give leaders a similar platform to school leaders, legislators and policymakers to discuss the challenges of arts education and develop concrete strategies to strengthen their states' arts education policies and programs.

The NEA is working in cooperation with the Illinois Arts Council to implement the Education Leaders Institute. The Illinois Arts Council has broad experience with state and local government collaborations, and expertise in arts-in-education issues. The Council will partner with the Illinois State Board of Education, and the Illinois Arts Alliance, a statewide advocacy agency. The first NEA Education Leaders Institute takes place in March 2008, to be followed by a second institute in the summer of 2008.

Since its inception in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts has not only maintained support for arts education programs in and outside of school, but has provided leadership in the federal sector and among arts, education, business, and government organizations to develop and sustain an agenda for arts education improvement.

The agency has led efforts to make the arts a part of the core education for all pre-K through grade 12 students and to increase opportunities outside of school settings for additional arts learning.

The Arts Endowment provides direct grants in Arts Learning, collaborates in federal, state, and public-private partnerships, and conducts research on arts education for the K-12 community and lifelong learners.