Wallace Blog Search Results

Search Blogs by Keyword
Browse by Date
clear all

 

 

Pandemic Brings challenges (and Opportunities) for Arts Education28602GP0|#d2020f9f-c87c-4828-b93b-572786ae94a8;L0|#0d2020f9f-c87c-4828-b93b-572786ae94a8|Arts Education;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​“My theme today is adaptation,” said Bahia Ramos, Wallace’s director of the arts, on a recent webinar hosted by Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA). “By that I mean a special kind of change. A change that makes a practice better suited to its environment.”</p><p>This environment, of course, is the one we are now six months into, where the COVID-19 pandemic, economic insecurity and uprisings for racial justice have transformed life in this country. For the students and teachers in arts learning programs, this has meant a total pivot, everything from transitioning to online learning and virtual convenings to teaching artists being laid off at extremely high rates. These changes and much more&#160;came up in the GIA webinar, where Ramos spoke along with Kimberly Olsen, executive director of NYC Arts in Education Roundtable and Alex Nock, principal of Penn Hill Group.<br> </p><p><strong>Adaptation at BGCA</strong></p><p>Back in 2014, Wallace and three Boys &amp; Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) in the Midwest embarked upon the Youth Arts Initiative to discover if <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/something-to-say-success-principles-for-afterschool-arts-programs.aspx">10 principles drawn from the nation’s best, specialty afterschool arts programs</a> could be applied within a general youth-serving organization better known for its sports programs. No one knew if it would work, but over the five years of the initiative, the clubs did <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/designing-for-engagement-the-experiences-of-tweens-in-the-boys-and-girls-clubs’-youth-arts-initiative.aspx">manage to successfully implement high-quality art skill-development programs</a> as defined by the Ten Principles for Success. Additionally, the retention rates for young people in the initiative was <em>twice </em>that of young people who were not in the program.</p><p>YAI is now in its second wave in five cities, testing whether the Ten Principles can be adapted to a lower-cost model. Clubs designed several new strategies, such as hiring assistants for teaching artists and focusing on lower-cost art forms, and initial results were promising. </p><p>Then COVID-19 changed everything. </p><p>“COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on arts and culture and the education system at large,” Kimberly Olsen said in her presentation.&#160;According to Olsen, drastic budget cuts due to the pandemic have fallen disproportionately on arts education, impacting cultural organizations, their ability to serve students and also trickling down to&#160;their&#160;teaching artists. </p><p><strong>The Impact on Teaching Artists</strong></p><p>“Before the pandemic we knew that teaching artists were at risk,” Olsen said. According to a <a href="https&#58;//dataarts.smu.edu/artsresearch2014/articles/blog-white-papers/covid-19-impact-nonprofit-arts-and-culture-new-york-city">recent DataArts survey</a>, teaching artists have been laid off at high rates, with a 78% decrease in artist staffing at NYC-based organizations as of May 8; of the 5,000 teaching artists who responded to the survey, 96% have experienced a loss of income.</p><p>Amazingly, Ramos said, four of the five BGCA clubs have managed to keep all of their teaching artist staff. “We continued our funding of teaching artists and programs in our clubs regardless of whether they were opened or closed,” she explained. This enabled BGCA to launch a new program called “Creates” with a special website and tips on maximizing limited budgets, arts projects and program assessment.</p><p>Sadly, not all organizations have been as lucky. According to the same survey by SMU DataArts referenced above, over 25% of organizations stated that they have laid off or furloughed their staff and artist workforce, and 11% of organizations indicated that they do not think they will survive the COVID-19 crisis.</p><p>“Our city announced a draft budget that saw tremendous cuts to arts education funding that would not only jeopardize the city’s recovery process, but limit both school and cultural organizations’ capacity to serve and engage young people while disproportionately impacting these nonprofit cultural organizations as well as students from low income communities,” Olsen explained.</p><p>As a result, the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable launched an efficacy campaign called <a href="https&#58;//nycaieroundtable.org/arts-are-essential/">Arts Are Essential</a>, with the goal of preserving arts education funding and investing in the community. “With all of this in mind, it&#160;means that organizations must be flexible,” Olsen said. “Flexibility means survival.”</p><p>Early lessons are emerging from BGCA’s new program as well. “Some downsides are clear – going online caused attention spans to be shorter, hours had to be reduced, fewer youth are joining, and as with regular school, lack of technology is a problem for some,” Ramos explained. “But there are some unexpected upsides like new opportunities to engage with parents; older youth have come in providing leadership roles, and youth are reporting that they feel more emotionally safe doing work at home.”</p><p><strong>Heading Toward Recovery</strong></p><p>According to Olsen, the arts and culture sector and teaching artists are going to play a huge part in the recovery of schools and communities. So how can philanthropy support artists who have been hit the hardest? </p><p>Given the very real threats to teaching artists and to arts learning programs overall, the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable encourages philanthropy to take the following action steps&#58;<br></p><ul><li>Include teaching artists in conversations and decision-making processes as the arts sector is redefined </li><li>Invest resources in emergency funding to grant immediate direct-to-individual support for teaching artists to offset the disproportional financial impact </li><li>Ensure that funding language and programs include teaching artists</li><li>Examine longstanding siloed funding priorities</li><li>Ensure arts organizations that are being funded compensate teaching artists with fair wages<br></li></ul><p>Penn Hill Group’s Alex Nock added another way for organizations to take advantage of potential funding&#58; The <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/unpacking-the-federal-response-to-covid-19-in-education.aspx">Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act</a>. Its provisions include more than $30 billion for K-12 and higher education programs; more than $4 billion for early childhood education; and other supports such as forgivable loans to nonprofits, including many providers of afterschool or summer programs. It also expanded states’ ability to provide Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, including for gig economy workers and individuals like artists, who would not ordinarily be eligible. </p><p>Nock spoke about other important pieces of COVID relief that affect artists and the art world in general. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act provided flexibility and additional funding for state unemployment insurance agencies to respond to COVID-19. The Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act provided $319 billion to replenish the program created under the CARES Act, in&#160;which loans to small businesses and nonprofits&#160;may be forgiven if businesses maintain their payroll.&#160; </p><p>Looking ahead to next year, Nock said that&#160;the House had passed the majority of its 2021 appropriations bills in two packages, which included moderate increases, but said we can expect&#160;the&#160;appropriations to&#160;be wrapped up after the November&#160;election. He is hopeful that the next package of COVID federal funding will include more money for education.</p><p>Whatever happens with the funding going forward, Olsen emphasized that collaboration, flexibility and adaptation will help the sector survive and thrive.&#160;“While it’s been a hard time for the arts in education community, the field is resilient,” she said. “They’re creative, and they are driven to support their students in whatever way they can. We’re seeing opportunities and potential growing each day.”</p>Wallace editorial team792020-09-22T04:00:00ZRecent webinar discusses how teaching artists and cultural institutions are responding to COVID-19 and beyond9/22/2020 6:03:29 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Pandemic Brings challenges (and Opportunities) for Arts Education Recent webinar discusses how teaching artists and 86https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Today's Focus on Principal Effectiveness Breaks Sharply with the Past24364GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61;GP0|#02d6f4ae-88a2-4236-b1a9-1f37b2599002;L0|#002d6f4ae-88a2-4236-b1a9-1f37b2599002|District Policy and Practice;GPP|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;GP0|#8cf34914-7bff-4dc4-95c0-d6e59a295cba;L0|#08cf34914-7bff-4dc4-95c0-d6e59a295cba|Effective Principal Leadership<p>If you want to know about school principals, consider getting a data dump from Susan Gates. As a senior researcher at the RAND Corp., Gates has been key to numerous studies exploring the principalship, many commissioned by Wallace. The most recent, published in June, is a first-of-its-kind look at the prevalence in large and medium-sized school districts of comprehensive, systemic efforts—known as principal pipelines—to develop a large corps of effective school principals. &#160;</p><p>In a way, <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/taking-stock-of-principal-pipelines.aspx"> <em>Taking Stock of Principal Pipelines&#58; What Public School Districts Report Doing and What They Want to Do to Improve School Leadership</em></a> brings Gates full circle. Close to two decades ago, she was the lead researcher on another Wallace-commissioned report, <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/overview-of-school-administrators-and-their-careers.aspx"> <em>Who is Leading Our Schools&#58; An Overview of School Administrators and Their Careers</em></a>. Published in 2003, that study helped overturn the then-common view that the nation was facing a shortage of people certified to become principals. The report influenced Wallace’s decision to devote the foundation’s education leadership efforts to helping more principals work in a way that could improve schools, a move that eventually led to Wallace’s Principal Pipeline Initiative. With that came a <a href="/knowledge-center/school-leadership/pages/principal-pipeline-implementation.aspx">groundbreaking 2019 report </a>by Gates and her team finding that pipelines can have significant benefits for student achievement and principal retention. &#160;</p><p> <img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Todays-Focus-on-Principal-Effectiveness-Breaks-Sharply-With-the-Concerns-of-20-Years-Ago/gates_9114-(002).jpg" alt="gates_9114-(002).jpg" class="wf-Image-Left" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;159px;height&#58;201px;" />We recently caught up with Gates to ask her to reflect on the “then” and “now” in the principal landscape, including what the COVID-19 crisis has meant for school leadership. The interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.</p><p> <strong>Since 2003, what changes have you seen in the discussions about school leadership? Are we at a different place from where we were 17 years ago—pandemic notwithstanding?</strong></p><p>I’ve seen a tremendous shift in the public discourse around school leadership in the last two decades.&#160; Twenty years ago, attention was focused on a pending wave of retirements and questions about whether there would be enough people to replace the retirees. Policymakers were also worried about high principal turnover rates—especially in more challenging high-needs schools. But the focus was really on whether there were sufficient numbers of people to fill vacancies. </p><p>Concerns about turnover and filling vacancies remain today, but the discussion is now focused on whether schools have effective principals. It’s not enough to simply put more people through principal preparation programs. There is growing recognition that the principal’s job is exceedingly complex and unpredictable. We’ve learned a lot over the past 20 years about how to prepare people for this important role. Research has identified features of good principal preparation. But we’ve also learned that prep programs can’t do it all. Twenty years ago, there was this notion that a person with two to three years of teaching experience could attend a good preparation program and at the end of it be ready to serve as principal in any environment with minimal support. Today, we understand that school leadership is itself a career with expectations for growth and development. This implies that good school leadership must be a shared responsibility of preparation programs and the school districts that hire and support principals. </p><p>The search for strategies to improve principal quality now focuses on improving preparation programs and the activities of districts. Are they hiring the right candidate for the job? Are they providing that person with the supports they need to be effective? Are they helping them identify their growth areas and supporting them in their professional development? And are they working in partnership with preparation programs to improve preparation?</p><p> <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/taking-stock-of-principal-pipelines.aspx"><strong><em>Taking Stock of Principal Pipelines</em></strong></a><strong> is the first systematic look at the status of principal pipelines in large and medium size districts across the nation. Should readers be surprised by how much activity in pipelines is under way now—or be surprised about the gaps? How do you and your team see the findings? </strong></p><p>Pipeline activities are those related to the preparation, hiring, evaluation and support of principals. Districts employ principals and so it is natural to expect that all districts would be doing some if not most of these pipeline activities. And that is what we found. Districts of all sizes reported that they are devoting effort to the preparation, hiring, evaluation and support of principals. Not only that, the leaders in nearly all districts reported prioritizing school leadership as a lever for school improvement. There’s a pervasive understanding across the country that school principals matter. At the same time, less than half of districts reported moderate or high satisfaction with their pool of principal candidates. This suggests that districts see pipelines as an area for improvement.</p><p> <strong>What does the study tell us about differences in pipeline activities between large districts, medium districts and smaller districts?</strong></p><p>Districts of all size reported engaging in pipeline activities and there was substantial interest across districts of all sizes in doing more in each area. Medium districts reported engaging in fewer pipeline activities. &#160;They were less likely to have principal standards and a process to encourage or “tap” individuals to become school leaders. They were also less likely to use performance-based hiring metrics and standards-aligned evaluation and to have a position dedicated to school leadership.&#160; </p><p>These differences between medium and large districts were not terribly surprising. It takes some up-front effort to set up some of these activities—you have to develop standards, hiring processes, evaluation metrics. Smaller districts tend to have fewer schools and hence fewer principals. So the payoff to them from such up-front efforts may be smaller.&#160; </p><p> <img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Todays-Focus-on-Principal-Effectiveness-Breaks-Sharply-With-the-Concerns-of-20-Years-Ago/Percentage-of-10K-Districts-Reporting-Prevalence-of-Principal-Pipeline-chart.jpg" alt="Percentage-of-10K-Districts-Reporting-Prevalence-of-Principal-Pipeline-chart.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;600px;height&#58;568px;" /> <br> </p><p> <strong>The current study found that large numbers of the district officials you interviewed want to upgrade their pipeline activities, everything from pre-service principal preparation to on-the-job support. What do your study and other research suggest will be the easiest and most difficult areas to strengthen?</strong></p><p>Research on the principal pipeline districts suggests that efforts to strengthen principal preparation can be challenging because there is a long lag time before such efforts will result in improvements in principal quality. In contrast, efforts to improve hiring and professional development for current principals can have more immediate impact. Although nearly all districts in our study reported doing something with regard to on the job support, this is also an area where most districts also wanted to do more. What struck me as an important growth area was the use of performance-based hiring approaches. This is a pipeline activity with relatively low prevalence nationwide.&#160; </p><p> <strong>The COVID-19 crisis has placed huge demands on public school education. What role are school leaders playing in keeping education going during this time, and how should districts be thinking now about their principal pipelines? </strong></p><p>Even prior to the COVID-19 crisis there was a recognition that the principal’s job is exceedingly complex and unpredictable. National school leadership standards outline 10 areas that principals need to master&#58;&#160; mission, ethics, curriculum and instruction, student support, professional capacity of school personnel, professional community of school staff, community engagement, management and school improvement. It’s as if all principals need to have the same toolbox, along with the ability to figure out which tool to use at which time. When a principal first takes over a school, they have to spend time figuring out what prioritize and how. In other words, which tools to use and how best to use them. Then they make adjustments over time. </p><p>The COVID-19 crisis disrupted the landscape for all schools. All principals had to re-think how they were approaching each area. Some may have had to dig deeply into their toolbox to find tools that they hadn’t had to use in a while. </p><p>School principals tend to be highly dedicated to the communities and students they serve, and according to a recent <a href="https&#58;//www.pewresearch.org/politics/2019/09/19/why-americans-dont-fully-trust-many-who-hold-positions-of-power-and-responsibility/" target="_blank">Pew survey</a>, they are among the most trusted category of public officials, along with police officers and members of the military. Families and communities are stretched in so many ways, and they are turning to these trusted school principals for help. So while principals are still expected to be the instructional leader of the school (now with a focus on supporting virtual learning options), they are also&#160; in charge of providing meals to families, making connections to social services, developing contract tracing and virus testing plans, and developing options for classroom set-up and bathroom breaks that honor social distancing requirements. And the list goes on. No principal preparation program could have fully prepared a principal for all aspects of this crisis so district support will be critical. Even highly effective veteran principals may need guidance, support or respite in these challenging times. By providing such support this school year, districts might be able to limit burnout and turnover.</p> <p> <em>Lead photo by Claire Holt</em></p>Wallace editorial team792020-09-15T04:00:00ZYour source for research and ideas to expand high quality learning and enrichment opportunities. Supporting: School Leadership, After School, Summer and Extended Learning Time, Arts Education and Building Audiences for the Arts.9/15/2020 4:44:31 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Today's Focus on Principal Effectiveness Breaks Sharply with the Past RAND’s Susan Gates reflects on the changed discourse 163https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
What We Need from The Arts Right Now24124GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​​​​​As arts organizations around the country plan to reopen, strategists and researchers at LaPlaca Cohen and Slover Linett have teamed up on a research initiative to help arts leaders understand what audiences want and expect from organizations during the pandemic—and how organizations can address the hopes, fears and needs of people as they consider returning. The new study, <a href="https&#58;//culturetrack.com/research/covidstudy/">Culture Track&#58; Culture and Community in a Time of Crisis</a>, based on responses from more than 120,000 survey respondents, sheds light on the current cultural landscape.<u> </u></p><p>We caught up with Jen Benoit-Bryan, vice president &amp; co-director of research at Slover Linett Audience Research and Diane Jean-Mary, partner and chief strategy officer at LaPlaca Cohen, over email to learn more about the implications of the study and how people might look to it for guidance.</p><p> <strong>We know you have been sharing these findings with arts leaders around the country. What has resonated with the field? How are organizations applying this data? </strong></p><p> <strong> <img class="wf-Image-Left" alt="Djm headshot_color.png" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/What-We-Need-from-Arts-and-Culture-Right-Now/Djm%20headshot_color.png" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;175px;height&#58;175px;" />DJM</strong>&#58; Presenting the findings amidst our placeless, Zoom-fueled, reality has provided space for a truly national conversation surrounding the role of arts and culture in our society. Previously, our Culture Track road shows were highly localized, bringing in audiences from a particular city or region to discuss the latest findings. This year, we were able to have far greater dialogue at the national level as participants tune into our presentations from all around the country. This feels particularly vital in a year when we are all navigating the same global issues of health, a hurting economy, and the fight for racial justice. It’s been pretty incredible to see institutions around the country not just take meaningful insights from the study but also from each other. </p><p> <strong> <img class="wf-Image-Left" alt="Jen6.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/What-We-Need-from-Arts-and-Culture-Right-Now/Jen6.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;175px;height&#58;117px;" />JBB</strong>&#58; One of the most surprising and meaningful insights from the data has been the high level of arts and culture digital participation among the general public during COVID-19, and crucially, the finding that digital offerings seem to be expanding and diversifying participation. It has been fascinating to see that for many segments of the arts and culture sector, a lot of the people using digital content from organizations hadn’t attended that type of organization in person in the previous year—for example, 51 percent of people using digital content from science museums during COVID-19 hadn’t been to a science museum in person in 2019. </p><p>Perhaps even more importantly, those using digital content who hadn’t been in-person were much more likely to be diverse along demographics that we know are underrepresented in arts and cultural organizations, such as people with low incomes, low education levels and Black or African Americans. We have heard from many organizations who are already using these findings to explain why resources for digital engagement are critical now and in the future.</p><p> <strong>You’ve both been doing research on audiences for many years. What is different about these findings? What do audiences continue to value during a pandemic?</strong></p><p> <strong>JBB&#58;</strong> &#160;A central assumption we held when designing this work was the need to understand what communities require and want from cultural organizations during COVID-19. Therefore, it was critical that we hear from a range of audiences and attenders to culture—defined quite broadly—as well as the public with their varied types and degrees of connection to culture. That’s unique. Most studies focus on a single organization’s audiences or perhaps a portion of the cultural landscape like orchestras, but this study goes way beyond those frames of reference. The sheer scale of participation in the study—over 120,000 respondents—allowed us to slice and compare segments of the data in a more granular way, which is extremely powerful for understanding portions of the whole like users of digital arts and culture activities.</p><p> <strong>DJM</strong>&#58; COVID-19, in every fundamental way, has disrupted our sense of what normal looks like, and we’re seeing that bear out in the research. In a time of such great uncertainty, many are turning to creativity, perhaps as a way to regain a sense of agency, expression and enjoyment. It was great to see how many people are leaning into their inner artist and maker&#58; singing, crafting, baking, painting and more. There are also facets of culture that are just as vital now as they were before the pandemic, particularly in the ways that people perceive the value of the arts&#58; a force for connecting us to each other, for understanding the vastness of human experience, and for emotional and intellectual escape.&#160;</p><p> <strong>Was there anything that surprised you about these findings?</strong> </p><p> <strong>JBB&#58;</strong> I was surprised by the proportion of the public—96 percent—that sees a role for arts and culture organizations during a crisis like COVID-19. When we wrote this question, we thought many people might tell us that arts and culture should just “get out of the way” during a crisis, but people are looking to arts and culture for four main kinds of help&#58; support staying connected with others and educating kids; emotional support; practical support and opportunities for distraction and escape.<br><br><strong>What is one key finding you hope organizations will take away from the study?</strong></p><p> <strong>DJM</strong>&#58; The single most revealing finding was just how big the racial inclusion problem is in our sector. Anecdotally, the field understands that it has failed to welcome and serve communities of color and has made strides to confront diversity, but there’s still a long way to go to achieve equity and inclusion, and this is reflected in the data. Our survey reached 122,000 respondents, largely pulled from lists provided by over 650 cultural organizations around the nation. The overwhelming majority of those audiences are white, 85 percent of the audiences surveyed through their lists to be exact. Of those surveyed through cultural organizations’ lists, just three percent are Black, five percent are Hispanix/Latinx and four percent are Asian/Pacific Islander. Less than one percent is Native American. Every organization should reflect on this data, unpacking the barriers that have signaled to BIPOC audiences that we do not belong. </p><p>For the future relevance of the arts, cultural organizations will have to change alongside our society. And that change cannot be limited to the visitor-facing channels at their disposal. Audiences can see through the optics of superficial inclusion, they can feel when diversity is a mere checkbox. Cultural organizations should instead focus on building trust, relevance and connection with their audiences of color.&#160; </p><p> <strong>JBB&#58;</strong> &#160; The research also provides some clear evidence about the changes that would make arts and culture organizations better for Black or African American respondents and Hispanic or Latinx respondents. Almost three-quarters of Black or African American respondents, two-thirds of Hispanic or Latinx respondents and about half of the public want arts and culture organizations to become more centered on their communities and the people in them. This includes changes such as greater diversity; a focus on local artists, nonprofits and community; deepening engagement with young people; treating employees fairly; and being friendlier to all kinds of people. There’s more to unpack and explore here, particularly through the upcoming qualitative research coming next. </p><p> <strong>Did the data give any clues as to the future of organizations using digital content going forward?</strong></p><p> <strong>DJM</strong>&#58; With increasing financial pressure placed on cultural organizations to recoup revenue lost to COVID-19 closures, many institutions are assessing how best to monetize their virtual content. It is important as they examine all the options on the table, not to regard digital as a substitute for prior onsite revenues. The data suggests that the audience’s appetite for paid digital content is quite low. Instead, digital offerings present an opportunity for broadening audiences beyond the typical visitor. We’re seeing greater engagement particularly amongst people of color and lower income families.&#160;Digital is a great tool that institutions should deploy in service to bettering the lives of their communities, rather than as a driver of revenue.</p><p> <strong>What is the level of confidence on these findings? Do you feel they are broadly applicable?</strong></p><p> <strong>JBB&#58; </strong>As we designed the study, we made a few decisions with the goal of creating a broadly applicable and useful dataset. First, we defined “arts and culture” quite widely and worked to recruit participating organizations across the sector. We also worked with NORC [National Opinion Research Center] at the University of Chicago to draw an extremely rigorous and representative sample of the public with a margin of error of 2.88 percentage points. In survey design, we made the strategic decision not to ask any questions that were focused just on the organization distributing the survey—although we considered it—because we wanted these findings to be broadly useful to the arts and culture sector.&#160;</p><p> <strong>Given the findings, what kind of an arts experience would people be responsive to over the next six to 12 months?</strong></p><p> <strong>DJM</strong>&#58; Based on what we’re seeing from the data and hearing from the field, the most successful arts experiences of the future will be designed around what audiences are so desperately missing in their lives—connection, novelty and adventure. We’re in the wild west of creativity and invention, and people seem more willing to experiment with activities that help them reconnect with the parts of life we’ve lost. We are all craving connection with our loved ones and that will only grow in intensity as we move from one year in quarantine to the next. I bet that any arts organization that provides a way for friends and families to connect through shared, novel experiences will be a major hit with audiences. This is especially true if the experience embraces a participatory approach that invites the audience to be the engineers of the adventure, fun and sense of togetherness. Bonus points for experiences that get us off Zoom and into the world (safely, of course), and also for experiences that help parents and caregivers educate children in a fun and interactive way.&#160; </p><p> <em> <span> <span> <strong> </strong></span></span>Diane Jean-Mary is a global strategy consultant with expertise in organizational change and transformation for the field of arts and entertainment. As Partner and Chief Strategy Officer at LaPlaca Cohen, Diane oversees a dynamic range of projects, nationally and internationally, on cultural entrepreneurship, mission and purpose development, brand strategy, strategic visioning, and audience development across non-profit and corporate creative institutions. She also leads the firm's ongoing Culture Track study, an insights and innovation platform dedicated to addressing the most pressing challenges in the cultural sector. <br></em></p><p> <em><span><span><strong></strong></span></span>Jen Benoit-Bryan is the Vice President &amp; Co-director of Research at Slover Linett, a firm that uses the tools of research and evaluation to help the cultural sector understand its participants and communities, experiment with new strategies for engagement, and connect more deeply to more people. Jen has overseen a portfolio of over sixty complex client engagements over the past six years at Slover Linett, using the tools of research and evaluation to help organizations meet their goals. Since coming to Slover Linett in 2014, she has worked on wide-ranging, often multi-year projects with the National Academy of Sciences, Central Park Conservancy, the Kennedy Center, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Carnegie Hall, Washington National Opera, Ballet Austin, the High Line, Dallas Zoo, and SFMOMA, among many other arts, culture, and informal learning organizations. Jen serves as the Principal Investigator &amp; Slover Linett Team Director for the Culture &amp; Community in a Time of Crisis (CCTC) study conducted in 2020 in partnership with LaPlaca Cohen. Jen earned her Ph.D. in public administration &amp; research methodology at the University of Illinois, Chicago. </em></p><em> </em>Wallace editorial team792020-09-09T04:00:00ZNew large-scale survey on cultural sector in the pandemic finds audiences crave meaningful digital experiences, more racial inclusion and connection with others9/11/2020 3:26:35 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / What We Need from The Arts Right Now New large-scale survey on cultural sector in the pandemic finds audiences crave more 210https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Keeping a Focus on Equity as Schools Reopen During the Pandemic24463GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​The COVID-19 pandemic has cast a harsh spotlight on the inequities that fester in almost every sector of our nation, including K-12 education. Recently, we spoke with Hal Smith, senior vice president of education, youth development &amp; health at the National Urban League, about how districts and state departments of education can address those inequities as they move into a new school year and face the unprecedented challenge of educating students while keeping schools safe during a pandemic. Smith is a member of the steering committee for Wallace’s ESSA Leadership Learning Community, a group of staff members and chiefs from 11 state departments of education, leadership from urban districts and Urban League affiliate CEOs. The group is considering how federal education law and the resultant state and local policies and investments could be used to promote evidence-based school leadership practices focused on achieving educational equity. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.</p><p> <strong>What did we learn about remote learning after school buildings closed last spring, and what lessons should districts be applying in the coming school year?</strong></p><p> <img class="wf-Image-Left" alt="Hal_Smith.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Keeping-a-Focus-on-Equity-as-Schools-Reopen/Hal_Smith.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;245px;height&#58;184px;" />Nobody was prepared to move online. That’s not a criticism—nobody could have anticipated it—but the quality of instruction varied widely. You had very few prepared to do in-person instruction that transferred easily to online settings. And some never attempted to move instruction online, and education became a series of workbooks and cobbled-together approaches done on the fly.&#160; </p><p>This year, as the school year opens, we should have had time to prepare for remote instruction. That would mean professional development for teachers and support for parents to take advantage of remote learning. Even if you provide the broadband internet access and devices that we’ve clamored for, there is still a question as to how families, caregivers and students themselves can use digital and remote learning to greatest effect. It’s one thing to turn on the computer and sit in front of the screen; it’s another to know how to best take advantage of digital learning and platforms. How do you grow and maintain relationships in a virtual environment? </p><p>Also, how do you understand screen time not just as a passive experience where you are pushing buttons, but as time to do serious inquiry into what interests you as a learner? While there is certainly a need for instruction, there is certainly room for student-led inquiry into what is happening in the world around them. Their interests, their hobbies, the things they wanted to know more about—all of those things should be acknowledged as we return to more formal instruction this school year. We are hoping that districts are thinking of students as more than passive recipients of digital learning, [and seeing them] as co-creators of their learning, of their sense of inquiry and development. That was not happening in in-person instruction either. So this was an opportunity to think differently about students and their own learning and development. </p><p> <strong>Are urban schools prepared to reopen?</strong></p><p>Right now everyone’s plans seem to hit the high notes in general terms because they’re not asked for specifics. But the next six weeks will bear watching. Publicly released plans focus on children’s safety and wellness. But we also want to know your strategy for reaching high school students who never logged on in the spring, in the summer, and have no ability or intention for logging on in the fall. Those strategies are not clearly articulated in reopening plans. Those plans assume that everyone will show up every day, and that’s not the case. </p><p><img alt="COVID-19-Costs-to-Reopen-Schools.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Keeping-a-Focus-on-Equity-as-Schools-Reopen/COVID-19-Costs-to-Reopen-Schools.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br>&#160;</p><p> <strong>How should districts and schools approach social and emotional learning during this school year?</strong></p><p>Every district named social and emotional learning as an important part of their CARES Act plan [<em>the federal relief package that has provided funding for, among other things, public education</em>]. Is it real or is it political speak that doesn’t change the way we invest in public schools? It’s very common now for social-emotional learning to be dropped as a marker of educational care. You have to have it there. The language doesn’t mean you changed a single way that you operate. We’ll see that play out in the investments, the partnerships, the staffing decisions, the scheduling. Do you have room in your schedule for one-on-one and small group contact with young people, or have you simply replicated your block schedule online? </p><p>There was certainly trauma, financial uncertainty, but we want to acknowledge that young people are thoughtful and resilient and did some things outside the building we call school that will contribute to their education and growth. Having adults that can help them process what happened is important. </p><p>We had young people in Urban League programs who were essential workers. They worked in retail, they worked in fast food, and they were asked to take that on at 16, 17. That’s ripe for learning and reflection—the inequities in experience, the maturity that was accelerated by that. What have we learned in this moment about ourselves, our society? </p><p> <strong>What inequities has the pandemic laid bare and how should districts address them? </strong></p><p>There is no hiding the impact of inequity on education now. Inequity of food security, of housing, social economic status, racism, access to laptops and high-speed internet access—those have been made clear. These are not things that all cities, all communities were paying attention to in a connected manner. We are in a different place in that people have acknowledged these inequalities exist. I don’t know as we are in a different place as far as doing things differently.</p><p>We think it’s necessary for people to envision a longer-term set of solutions [that address] remote and distance learning, that upend inequity and establish a more high-quality education for all students. There will be a tendency [in the coming year] to focus on remediation and not acceleration. Some students need to catch up. But this doesn’t mean we have to stay there for the whole year. Because they missed four months of instruction doesn’t mean they are incapable of higher-level work. I do not believe that the highest-achieving students in the highest-achieving schools are going to receive a basic education. So the same kinds of imagination and energy that are going into educating high-achieving students, why not give that to all students? </p><p>I also think there’s a real of parents, caregivers and community stakeholders. I say funded very specifically because sustained engagement costs money. The funded nature means there are some resources dedicated to make sure it’s robust. You structure meetings, you structure people’s professional time, so someone is responsible for getting parent feedback and include them meaningfully in your strategy and planning. Anything that’s sustained has to have resources dedicated to it.</p><p>Often engagement is understood as a communications effort&#58; We are going to make sure that everyone hears the message, that the tweet, the flyer goes out there—but that’s not engagement. You really want to engage parents and stakeholders around what you want to happen and anticipate pushback and questions as you shape what your priorities and your strategies are [for remote or hybrid instruction]. Having parents, caregivers, stakeholders and even students themselves, where possible, be a part of the planning, the implementation, and most importantly a part of the reflection, is essential. </p><p> <strong>You've talked about regarding this school year as one that lasts 18 months, through summer 2021. What would that look like?</strong></p><p>We should think of summer 2020 through summer 2021 as one school year, one educational time period, rather than parse out our plans in three distinct time periods, so that we have time to think about recovery and acceleration and some new innovation. The investments we made this summer and what we learned are going to be applied to this school year. And the things we learn this school year will certainly shape what is necessary next summer. So rather than create artificial barriers, there’s an opportunity to think about an 18-month period where we are going to work with parents, children and educators in a more connected way compared to the typical school year. </p><p>I do look forward to what this fall will bring. We have very talented educators in this country and there will be no shortage of new approaches. I think much of what we will learn will dramatically shape what school looks like after the pandemic. Maybe we’ll no longer accept 40 kids in a classroom. Maybe more teachers will take on a hybrid approach where student projects live online. I don’t imagine education going back to the way it was before. </p><p><em>&quot;What Will It Cost to Reopen Schools?&quot; image is reprinted with permission of the Association of School Business Officials International® (<a href="https&#58;//www.asbointl.org/">www.asbointl.org</a>) and is non-transferable. Use of this imprint does not imply any endorsement or recognition by ASBO International and its officers or affiliates.</em> <br> </p>Elizabeth Duffrin972020-08-25T04:00:00ZThe Urban League’s Hal Smith sees pitfalls and, yes, educational opportunities—including more student-led inquiry8/26/2020 4:50:08 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Keeping a Focus on Equity as Schools Reopen During the Pandemic The Urban League’s Hal Smith sees pitfalls and, yes 777https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
How Can Artists Help Reimagine Our Future Post-COVID?24344GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61 <p>As society looks to address the ravaging effects of both COVID-19 and systemic racism, artists and arts organizations have an essential role in reimagining the future. In an Op-Ed for <em>KCET’s Southland Sessions</em>, Kristy Edmunds, Executive and Artistic Director for UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance, argues that while the products of the creative sector will undoubtedly continue as indispensable contributions for a thriving society moving forward, it is artistic process and creative problem solving that are most crucial to paving the way towards a vital and inclusive future. Edmunds argues that these intrinsic benefits of the arts are often overlooked, particularly in discussions about post-pandemic recovery. </p><p>To nurture this philosophy, arts organizations can and must help get artists to the recovery table. It starts with a commitment to what Edmunds calls “duty of care.” For Edmunds, what this looks like is maintaining transparency and cultivating pathways of information&#58; “We have to provide as much information as possible to artists. We’re saying here’s what we’re seeing, here’s what we’re learning from various organizational/institutional vantage points, so that knowledge is transferred and shared rather than left dangling in the air. Artists will know what to do for their work and process and decision-making. The most important thing for them to know is that they’re not being abandoned—they are being sought.” </p><p>In addition, Edmunds says, arts organizations can proactively work to ensure that artists have a prominent voice in post-pandemic recovery conversations. She observes that it tends to be the most visible leader who is invited to the policy roundtable, but that person may not necessarily be best suited for the task at hand. To address this, she offers, “It’s incumbent upon us, as leaders, to understand the dynamic of what’s being sought, and to bring artists into the room with us.” </p><p><a href="https&#58;//www.kcet.org/shows/southland-sessions/kristy-edmunds-public-care-is-our-most-durable-good">Read Edmunds’ Op-Ed on the KCET website</a>. </p> Wallace editorial team792020-08-11T04:00:00ZOp-Ed for KCET argues that artists—and the organizations that support them—can play a vital role in post-pandemic problem solving8/11/2020 6:17:51 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / How Can Artists Help Reimagine Our Future Post-COVID Op-Ed for KCET argues that artists—and the organizations that support 473https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Once Focused on System Problems, Principal Supervisors Now Drive Support22986GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>In 2014, Des Moines Public Schools was one of six urban school districts selected to participate in Wallace’s Principal Supervisor Initiative, a four-year effort to overhaul a central-office position from its traditional focus on administration to a focus on developing principals’ skills at supporting effective teaching. Des Moines, which serves 33,000 children across more than 60 schools, was eager to get to work. </p><p>A year earlier, newly appointed superintendent Thomas Ahart had increased his staff of supervisors, known in the district as directors, to five from three, thereby reducing the number of schools each supervisor oversaw. At the time, a single director managed all of the district’s 39 elementary schools. Over the course of the effort, Des Moines made substantial changes that allowed principal supervisors to spend more time working alongside principals to strengthen their instructional leadership practices. A new report, <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/changing-the-principal-supervisor-role-to-better-support-principals.aspx"> <em>Changing the Principal Supervisor Role to Better Support Principals&#58; Evidence from the Principal Supervisor Initiative</em></a>, describes the experiences of Des Moines and the other districts, as well as the impact of the work. In early March, Ahart sat down with us to discuss how the supervisor effort had unfolded in Des Moines and his plans to keep the momentum going. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.&#160;</p><p> <strong>One of the key components of the Principal Supervisor Initiative (PSI) was to strengthen central office structures to support and sustain changes in the principal supervisor’s role. How did you accomplish this in Des Moines? </strong></p><p>Prior to the PSI grant, we had a central-office structure that supervised schools, not principals. In theory, our principal supervisors evaluated principals, but what they really did was help principals solve problems with the system, whether it involved facilities, business and finance, human resources. Then at the end of the year, they did an evaluation that, from my own experience as a principal, was of very little value.</p><p>Frankly, it just checked a box. </p><p>When we started to break down how to better support our schools, the big challenge was&#58; How do we take care of the things currently on the principal supervisor’s plate that detract from coaching around student growth? That was the driver in shifts made holistically at central office. Rather than principal supervisors brokering resources from the district for their principals, we needed a system that allowed that to happen organically. </p><p> <strong>So what changes did you make? </strong></p><p>We created a cadre of five principal supervisors called directors and put each in charge of a network of schools. They [originally] reported to two executive directors who served as a go-between between the rest of the central administration and the schools. I’m embarrassed that I didn’t figure this out earlier, but we soon recognized a problem with this solution. Why were we relegating executive directors, bright people with years of experience in the district, to this type of work? It was true that they knew the system inside and out, and had relationships to navigate it, but their work wasn’t contributing to a more powerful system. </p><p>That’s when we created a structure in which each principal supervisor has a district support team for their school network. Each of them has one point of contact in human resources, business and finance, operations and other central-office departments. These [central-office] individuals now hear the whole range of questions, frustrations and wants from principals relative to their department, and they’re going back to their [department heads] with really good thinking about how to make their department work better. This is a paradigm shift in how the central office functioned. In the past, departments like business and finance never felt connected to what was happening in schools. The new structure makes them feel like, hey, I’m not just pushing numbers. I’m a critical piece of making this work at the classroom level. They’re motivated and highly engaged. Interestingly, we now have principals inquiring about openings in human resources. We’ve never had that before, so I think that’s a positive development. </p><p> <strong>The job description of a principal supervisor has been completely rewritten in Des Moines. How did you manage the change in expectations for the role? </strong></p><p>I became associate superintendent for teaching and learning in 2011, and 10 months into it, I was named interim superintendent. By the time I was appointed superintendent in 2013, I already had been working on a different organizational strategy. I drafted a new org chart and showed it to the three directors who were supervising schools at the time. Their eyes got really big and they said, what about us? I said, great question, tell me what you do right now. They said they supported schools and described the brokering role I mentioned earlier. Then I showed them the monitoring reports I submit to the board of education every year and asked them to which ones they contributed. They looked at each other and said none. That’s the problem, I told them. These guys were working really hard, feeling like they were doing everything for our schools and principals, but it didn’t show up anywhere on paper. They didn’t own anything, and that actually did them a great disservice in terms of how the position was viewed by the rest of the organization.</p><p>After I became superintendent, I hired two more directors and gave them each smaller networks of schools. Both had been sitting principals, both were dedicated to students, but they had no idea what they were doing as supervisors. In terms of coaching, they had a lot of work to do. Shortly after, the grant application for the PSI came about. It was perfect timing. The PSI provided us the resources to put in place a leadership framework and an instructional framework, and to develop shared language and shared expectations. It allowed us to support our principal supervisors so they can coach effectively and take a different coaching disposition based on the problem of practice they’re trying to solve. </p><p> <strong>According to the </strong> <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/changing-the-principal-supervisor-role-to-better-support-principals.aspx"> <strong>report</strong></a><strong>, over the course of the PSI initiative principals reported that the quality of the evaluation feedback they received from their supervisors improved. How has the culture around evaluations changed in Des Moines? </strong></p><p>A number of big changes have happened. First, our principals now receive a meaningful evaluation, whether they like it or not. It’s much more integral to their work with their supervisors. They also have much more clarity about their job and the system’s expectations for them. They’re not flying blind and then worrying at the end of the school year when someone goes through an exhaustive checklist to determine if they’re doing an okay job. Our principals see their supervisor at least once a week all year. In most cases, they’re spending several hours together each week. So even if they don’t like something in their evaluation, they can’t say it’s not an informed assessment of their practice. </p><p> <strong>Do you think a principal supervisor can be both coach and evaluator? </strong></p><p>We’re still wrestling with that question. I do think an evaluator should have coaching skills. We want the evaluation process to be one of growth and improvement, not punitive. But if my only coach is my evaluator, while he may do a wonderful job in supporting me, I think there are some inherent limits to that when ultimately he has to judge my performance. Right now, we’re working to build coaching capacity in the folks who serve on our network support teams.&#160;&#160; </p><p> <strong>The PSI researchers recommend that districts embed the principal supervisor role within the broader work of the central office to sustain the changes they’ve implemented. What’s your plan in Des Moines?</strong></p><p>Currently, our principal supervisors report to the associate superintendent, but we may have them report up through our executive director of teaching and learning instead. Her department is responsible for curriculum and works closely with principals to implement it. We’re at a place now where we’re asking, how many voices do we want in our principal’s ear? By better integrating our work at central office, we can eliminate the number of at least perceived demands on our principals. It would also be further doubling down on the principal supervisor’s ownership of executing district-wide priorities. </p><p> <em>A number of other reports about the principal supervisor job, including </em> <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/leading-the-change-a-comparison-of-the-principal-supervisor-role.aspx">Leading the Change</a><em>, a look at the role in larger districts nationally, can be found </em> <a href="/knowledge-center/school-leadership/pages/principal-supervisors.aspx"> <em>here</em></a><em>.</em></p>Jennifer Gill832020-07-28T04:00:00ZDes Moines schools chief Thomas Ahart discusses how his district re-made the principal supervisor job7/27/2020 8:50:10 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Once Focused on System Problems, Principal Supervisors Now Drive Support Des Moines schools chief Thomas Ahart discusses 221https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
6 Data-Tested Approaches to Building New Audiences24055GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>It’s safe to say that most museums would like new visitors. Visitors actualize museums’ missions, give them vibrancy as places of insight and connection, and contribute to their financial welfare. Even for museums that receive plenty of visitors in number, there may be interest in seeing <em>different</em> ones, from backgrounds and identity groups outside of the usual audience makeup.</p><p>But though the <em>why </em>is clear, the <em>how </em>can be elusive. There is no shortage of ideas about how to attract newcomers, and it’s hard to know which are worth the investment of time and money to implement. Thankfully, The Wallace Foundation has made it a mission to partner with cultural organizations and help them address this question with research rather than guesswork, publishing the results in a series of detailed and candid <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/wallace-studies-in-building-arts-audiences.aspx">reports</a>. AAM has summarized the findings from these case studies in <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/programs/building-audiences/resources/">fact sheets</a>, with key insights and thought-provoking discussion questions tailored to the museum field.</p><p>Though the institutions profiled are an assorted bunch—spanning museums, performing arts organizations, and art studios around the country—many of the lessons they learned overlap. Here are some tips that recurred throughout their experiments.</p><h2>1. Identify a target audience and get to know them well.<img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/6-Data-Tested-Approaches-to-Building-New-Audiences/Omar-Lopez-on-Unsplash.jpg" alt="Omar-Lopez-on-Unsplash.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br></h2><p class="wf-Element-ImageCaption"> <em>Photo credit&#58; Omar Lopez on Unsplash</em><br></p><p>It’s not enough to want “new visitors” in general. Different visitors want different things, and a strategy aimed at everyone is likely to please few. Instead, you need to get specific about who you want to come, so you can identify precisely what they want and why they aren’t already coming.</p><p>Your target audience might be young professionals, teenagers, parents with children, or recent immigrants from Latin America and Asia—to name some of the examples from the Wallace studies. Choose one that makes sense for the type of museum you are and the area you’re located in.</p><p>Once you’ve identified this target audience, start by getting to know them well—ideally by listening to them directly, as Wallace participants did in focus groups and other market research. That way, you can test your assumptions about how they feel and what they want, which are likely to be wrong by instinct. Research can reveal surprising, overlooked, and even radically simple barriers to attendance, <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fact-Sheet.Fleisher.pdf" target="_blank">like the Fleisher Art Memorial’s revelation</a> that its building was intimidating to people who had never been inside.</p><h2>2. Get the whole organization on board.<img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/6-Data-Tested-Approaches-to-Building-New-Audiences/airfocus-on-Unsplash.jpg" alt="airfocus-on-Unsplash.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br></h2><p></p><p class="wf-Element-ImageCaption"> <em>Photo credit&#58; airfocus on Unsplash</em></p><p>Before you proceed with an audience-building initiative, make sure to discuss the plans with the entire organization. Cultivating a new audience has real impacts on how you operate, and without sufficient dialogue, staff and board members may feel blindsided or undermined by these changes.</p><p>But this emphasis on transparency and collaboration is not only to preserve morale. Letting staff or leadership express their concerns about your ideas can strengthen them, accounting for wrinkles you didn’t consider and pushing you toward creative compromises to retain existing audiences.</p><p>For many in the organization, a sticking point might be how a plan adheres to the museum’s mission. They may think the museum will lose its focus and change for the worse if it tries to pursue a new audience. For that reason, it’s important to keep your mission statement close at hand while you’re working on audience-building strategies, to think about how they will tie into rather than deviate from those goals.</p><p>Another possibility is that your audience-building work will <em>reconnect </em>you to your mission. In the process of figuring out why a target audience isn’t visiting, you may realize you’ve been falling short of the purpose your museum was created for to begin with. That was the case for the <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fact-Sheet.San-Fran-Girls-Chorus.pdf" target="_blank">San Francisco Girls Chorus</a>, which realized it had lost focus on performance in favor of other aspects of its operations, and ended up following its rebrand into a refocused culture and board composition. </p><h2>3. Revamp your marketing.<img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/6-Data-Tested-Approaches-to-Building-New-Audiences/Yitzhak-Rodriguez-on-Unsplash.jpg" alt="Yitzhak-Rodriguez-on-Unsplash.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br></h2><p class="wf-Element-ImageCaption"> <em>Photo credit&#58; Yitzhak Rodriguez on Unsplash</em><br></p><p>If there is one throughline from the focus groups in the Wallace studies, it is that participants expected the cultural organizations’ offerings to be boring, old-fashioned, and intimidating for people inexperienced with the medium or focus area. If you think this is untrue for your museum, your marketing and communications are the place to bust these stereotypes.</p><p>In many of the studies, target audiences were put off by the organization’s existing marketing, reading it as flat, esoteric, and uninspiring. It came from and spoke to an in-group of enthusiasts, or was lacking in intention and flair altogether. Several of the organizations found success by using more dynamic visuals, like emotive close-ups of ballerinas or choral singers, and letting these do most of the talking rather than text.</p><p>But don’t neglect the text in your communications, either. Simple, short, and approachable information was important to many focus group participants, who found existing materials dense and confusing. Based on this feedback, <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fact-Sheet.Fleisher.pdf" target="_blank">Fleisher Art Memorial</a> redesigned its course catalog to be simpler and more scannable. The <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fact-Sheet.Minnesota-Opera.pdf" target="_blank">Minnesota Opera</a>, accustomed to marketing its performances with information on composers and historical contexts, tried to speak in terms of storylines and spectacle instead.</p><p>Both in images and words, it helps to emphasize the universal themes and benefits of your experience, those at the root of what you offer. This could be the joy of creating something with your own two hands, as <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fact-Sheet.Clay-Studio.pdf" target="_blank">The Clay Studio</a> emphasized, or the excitement of watching interpersonal dramas unfold, as the <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fact-Sheet.Minnesota-Opera.pdf" target="_blank">Minnesota Opera</a> did. You likely already know why your museum is worth visiting—why the subject it explores is fascinating—but for people who don’t, you need to spell it out.</p><h2>4. Roll out the welcome mat.<img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/6-Data-Tested-Approaches-to-Building-New-Audiences/Russ-Martin-on-Unsplash.jpg" alt="Russ-Martin-on-Unsplash.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br></h2><p class="wf-Element-ImageCaption"> <em>Photo credit&#58; Russ Martin on Unsplash</em><br></p><p>As powerful as marketing and communications can be, they aren’t everything. Ideally, they should illuminate an experience that is <em>actually</em> engaging and welcoming, not misrepresent it as such—which won’t go far in cultivating visitors in the long run.</p><p>Ask yourself whether you can offer exhibitions and programs relevant to the target audience. (If not, you probably have the wrong target audience.) Then work to create them, if they don’t already exist. When the <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fact-Sheet.Jewish-Museum.pdf" target="_blank">Contemporary Jewish Museum</a> wanted to reach parents with children, for instance, it mounted exhibitions exploring the work of famous Jewish children’s book authors, and began a series of special programs designed for parents and children to mingle. When <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fact-Sheet.Clay-Studio.pdf" target="_blank">The Clay Studio</a> wanted to reach a millennial audience, it adapted to their preferences with relaxed, social alternatives to its normally intensive sculpture classes.</p><p>With a relevant experience in place, you should figure out how to make your welcome loud and clear, especially if your target audience is one used to feeling out of place in your setting. The <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fact-Sheet.Pacific-Northwest-Ballet.pdf" target="_blank">Pacific Northwest Ballet</a>, for instance, made a special announcement before performances to thank teenagers attending through a special ticket program. The <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fact-Sheet.Jewish-Museum.pdf" target="_blank">Contemporary Jewish Museum</a> designed its lobby to be inviting to children, with trained staff available to guide them. <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fact-Sheet.Fleisher.pdf" target="_blank">Fleisher Art Memorial</a> created its first paid visitor services positions and trained staff in cultural competency, to address the unwelcoming atmosphere its immigrant target audience reported.</p><p>In the focus groups, intimidation was a recurring barrier to attending. Rightly or wrongly, many people expect elitism from cultural institutions—that they will be shamed or embarrassed for not already knowing a topic well, or otherwise not “fitting in.” Though it may be hard to perceive from the inside, inviting newcomers to visit your museum can feel like inviting them to a party where they don’t know anyone and won’t be able to follow the conversation. So, just like a good party host, you need to look for ways to make them feel comfortable and bring them into the fold.</p><h2>5. Partner with organizations already serving your target audience.<img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/6-Data-Tested-Approaches-to-Building-New-Audiences/My-life-Through-a-Lens-on-Unsplash.jpg" alt="My-life-Through-a-Lens-on-Unsplash.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br></h2><p class="wf-Element-ImageCaption"> <em>Photo credit&#58; “My Life Through a Lens” on Unsplash</em><br></p><p>Like transparency, partnerships are more than a feel-good buzzword. They can make your job easier, drawing on existing expertise rather than reproducing it from scratch. This is especially true with reaching new audiences—surely there are organizations in your area already reaching the audience you want, and working with them can bring mutual benefit.</p><p>Several of the Wallace participants found luck through partnerships like these. For example, the <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fact-Sheet.Boston-Lyric.pdf" target="_blank">Boston Lyric Opera</a> went to elaborate lengths to bring full-scale performances to new neighborhoods, but only succeeded in attracting newcomers when it hosted “previews” with local libraries. The <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fact-Sheet.Minnesota-Opera.pdf" target="_blank">Minnesota Opera</a> partnered with a local celebrity news radio host who effused on-air about the spectacle of its performances, speaking in terms he knew his audience would relate to.</p><p>But not all partnerships are created equal. Don’t just look at them as a means to an end to promote your offerings. For best results, you need your partners to be actively engaged, and the best way to ensure that is to collaborate on a strategy that also meets their needs and abilities. <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fact-Sheet.Fleisher.pdf" target="_blank">Fleisher Art Memorial</a> stressed this in its work with community organizations serving local immigrants, calling it a “give and take” that required active listening to understand the constraints of its partners.</p><h2>6. Stay agile.<img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/6-Data-Tested-Approaches-to-Building-New-Audiences/Fores-Simon-on-Unsplash.jpg" alt="Fores-Simon-on-Unsplash.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br></h2><p class="wf-Element-ImageCaption"> <em>Photo credit&#58; Forest Simon on Unsplash</em><br></p><p>Your work on audience-building strategies doesn’t stop after you begin deploying them. On the contrary, you should be vigilant of the data on how they perform, so you can tweak ideas that fall behind and boost those that excel. In the process of refining a lagging strategy, you might discover an important variable you hadn’t thought of, which can then be applied to future endeavors. If nothing will turn it around, you have the freedom to stop doing it and shift resources to successful ideas—a blessing in resource-strapped non-profits.</p><p>At the <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fact-Sheet.Seattle-Opera.pdf" target="_blank">Seattle Opera</a>, staff organized their multi-year digital outreach initiative into phases, sourcing audience evaluations in between each phase. From these evaluations, they learned that certain of their early strategies—like podcasts, blog content, and interactives—did not appeal to audiences as much as behind-the-scenes videos. So they dropped the content that was least appealing and channeled their resources into more ambitious video concepts, going with the flow of what audiences were responding to.</p><p>Think of your strategies as experiments. It’s okay—and likely—that some of them will fail. Not even the <a href="https&#58;//www.vulture.com/2020/07/is-anyone-watching-quibi.html" target="_blank">best-resourced company</a> is immune to this. But if you commit to trying, and staying open-eyed about what is and isn’t working, your successes just might revitalize and sustain your museum.</p><p><em>This post was originally published on the <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/" target="_blank">American Alliance for Museums</a> website and is reprinted here with permission. </em></p> Joseph O’Neill1102020-07-22T04:00:00ZYour source for research and ideas to expand high quality learning and enrichment opportunities. Supporting: School Leadership, After School, Summer and Extended Learning Time, Arts Education and Building Audiences for the Arts.7/22/2020 5:01:23 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / 6 Data-Tested Approaches to Building New Audiences Most museums would like new visitors, but pursuing them can be a 744https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Data and Deliberation: A Dynamic Duo for Arts Organizations24065GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>Even before the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered performances, many performing arts organizations faced challenges. National statistics have shown stagnant or declining attendance across many art forms associated with the nonprofit performing arts (see <a href="https&#58;//www.arts.gov/sites/default/files/2012-sppa-jan2015-rev.pdf">2015</a> and <a href="https&#58;//www.arts.gov/sites/default/files/2017-sppapreviewREV-sept2018.pdf">2018</a> National Endowment reports, for example). While the problem is widely acknowledged, there is less consensus or confidence about how organizations can respond. </p><p>Can data and market research help? </p><p><img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Data-and-Deliberation-A-Dynamic-Duo-for-Arts-Organizations/francie-headshot.jpg" alt="francie-headshot.jpg" class="wf-Image-Left" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;152px;height&#58;218px;" />The experiences of 25 performing arts organizations in The Wallace Foundation’s Building Audiences for Sustainability (BAS) initiative offer helpful insights. Organizations in the multi-year initiative, which recently came to a close, received grants to try and enlarge and engage their audiences. While their specific projects differed, all the organizations made use of data collection and market research, generally through a mix of focus groups, ticketing database analyses and post-performance audience surveys. </p><p>The emphasis on data and market research was part of the initiative’s continuous learning approach, characterized by an iterative process of design, implementation, analysis and determination of changes needed for improvement. My team and I have been studying the experiences of the organizations in the initiative.&#160;Interim findings about this key part of the initiative are presented in a new report, <a name="_Hlk43134477"></a> <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/data-and-deliberation-how-some-arts-organizations-are-using-data-to-understand-their-audiences.aspx"> <em>Data and Deliberation&#58; How Some Arts Organizations Are Using Data to Understand their Audiences</em></a><em>.</em></p><p>The findings underscore that data is not a magic bullet. To the contrary, engaging with data is a complex and challenging undertaking. Despite the challenges, virtually everyone at the participating arts organizations found engaging with data helpful. Our findings, along with examples from participants’ experiences, are presented in full in the report. To briefly summarize here&#58;</p><ul><li> <strong>Engaging with data appeared most productive when embedded in a larger deliberative process.</strong> Here, data becomes an input into a broader process of reflection and assessment about whether organizational goals are being pursued. <br> <br></li><li> <strong>Data can yield useful insights beyond organizations’ immediate and planned purposes.</strong> We repeatedly found instances where engagement with data prompted organizations to become aware of unexamined assumptions they held about their intended audience. <br> <br></li><li> <strong>Productive data engagement can be complex and costly.</strong> While organizations expressed enthusiasm for taking a data-based approach, they also said that they rarely have adequate funds to do so.<br><br></li><li> <strong>Recognizing the rewards and challenges in advance can help organizations more effectively plan for data engagement.</strong> Key issues to consider are what type of data are most relevant and what resources will be needed to support data collection and analysis<br><br></li></ul><ul><li> <strong>Effectively using data requires that </strong> <strong>organizational participants be able to frankly acknowledge what the data say about what is working and what is not working, in a fruitful rather than punitive fashion. </strong>Productive data engagement is not just about the data—but about how data are approached, the questions asked and a willingness to revise preconceptions.&#160; </li></ul><p>In a <a href="/knowledge-center/Documents/Audience-Building-Financial-Health-Nonprofit-Performing-Arts.pdf">review of the audience-building literature</a> we conducted earlier in our study, we found a dichotomy&#160; between those who value market research as a key tool and others who regard it as a somewhat manipulative sales effort rather than meaningful engagement.&#160;Our findings suggest a reconsideration of this dichotomy.&#160;<br></p><p>To a striking extent, we found that data, and an openness to what the data said, prompted the BAS organizations to confront their own insularity and recognize the extent to which they had not understood the perspective of external constituencies. Data is not engagement. Knowing about an audience is not the same as developing a relationship with that audience. But recognizing misconceptions, being prompted to ask about the audience rather than assuming that you understand audience members or that they think as you do can significantly contribute to relating differently and thus developing meaningful engagement. As expressed by one BAS participant while reflecting on her organization’s engagement with data&#58;&#160; </p><p class="wf-Element-Callout">It’s changing the way that we interact. We have a thing we say here all the time. Like do we know it or do we really know it? And with audiences, you have to always ask yourself that…. We’ve gone from describing a couple of departments in this [organization] as outward-facing, and now we understand that we’re all outward-facing. </p><p>Data is not a magic bullet—but when the appropriate data are used with an openness to change and a willingness to question one’s preconceptions, data can provide a powerful tool indeed. ​<br><br></p>Francie Ostrower, Ph.D. 1092020-07-14T04:00:00ZNew report examines the challenges and rewards of a data-based approach to understanding arts audiences7/14/2020 2:34:23 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Data and Deliberation: A Dynamic Duo for Arts Organizations New report examines the challenges and rewards of a data-based 433https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Though it May Look Different, Summer Is Not Canceled24117GP0|#ff9563e3-b973-45a7-8ac3-c9f4122f9a13;L0|#0ff9563e3-b973-45a7-8ac3-c9f4122f9a13|Summer Learning;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61 <p>​Every year, millions of kids—and, let’s face it, many adults too—look forward to the start of summer. But Summer 2020 is shaping up to be like no other. With summer vacations canceled, camps on hold and schools unsure about whether and how they will reopen, we’re facing a new set of questions, challenges and opportunities. </p><p>As we kick off Summer Learning Week, we had the chance to connect via email with Aaron Dworkin, CEO of the <a href="https&#58;//www.summerlearning.org/">National Summer Learning Association</a> (NSLA), a nonprofit organization that has been solely focused on harnessing summer as a time of learning, to see how they are approaching this unprecedented summer. For more in depth information about NSLA and summer learning, <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/summer-from-the-wild-west-to-a-center-of-success.aspx">see our interview with Dworkin</a> when he came onboard with the organization last year. </p><p><strong>Let’s start with the big question&#58; How will summer be different this year?</strong></p><p>The COVID-19 pandemic threatens to worsen the already existing opportunity gap between children from rich and poor families. It has illuminated the nation’s inequities in our school systems and communities like never before, shining a spotlight on the significant digital divide, food insecurities, childcare issues and learning losses millions of underserved students and their families face every summer. And the combination of COVID-19-related learning loss combined with the usual summer slide may have a ripple effect for years to come. Nonprofit organization NWEA, which specializes in student assessments, predicts significant learning loss from COVID school closures, especially in math. Their findings project that “students may return in fall 2020 with roughly 70 percent of the learning gains in reading relative to a typical school year, less than 50 percent of the learning gains in math, and in some grades, nearly a full year behind what we would observe in normal conditions.”</p><p>This means that summer learning programming will be more important than ever in 2020. Across the country, summer programs are adapting and innovating to ensure children and their families can access quality summer learning opportunities and critical supports, exploring safe ways to reopen, developing virtual and at-home learning experiences that families can do together and securing funding and policy support to expand summer meal programs in communities experiencing an increase in food insecurity due to job losses and school closures.</p><p>Parents, educators, summer learning advocates, business leaders and policymakers each play a critical role to save and expand summer learning opportunities in communities across the country this summer.</p><p><strong>How might families think about summer during this pandemic?</strong><strong> </strong> </p><p>Families are learning how to be hyper-creative when thinking about this summer. They’re thinking about ways to take advantage of available resources in a safe way. While community libraries and museums may be closed to in-person visits, you can explore their summer library programs or museum tours virtually with your children from the comfort of home. Many library and museum websites across the country and around the world have information posted about free virtual learning opportunities. </p><p>Parents can also access other online resources, such as the new <a href="https&#58;//bealearninghero.org/summer-stride/quick-tips-resources/">Summer Stride</a> resource from Learning Heroes, which includes ways to help your child with math and reading at home this summer.</p><p><strong>It seems parents, guardians and others have a bigger role in summer learning this year, in addition to summer programs. In general, why are summer learning programs important?</strong></p><p>Research shows that high-quality summer programs can make a difference in stemming learning loss and closing the country’s educational and opportunity gaps, particularly for our most vulnerable students. Elementary school students with high attendance in summer learning programs boost their math and reading skills. These skills, along with social and emotional learning, help children not only in school but also in their careers and life.<strong></strong></p><p><strong>What is most important for policymakers to know about summer learning programs, especially this year?</strong></p><p>On the federal level, funding is critical. These dollars serve to launch new programs and allow existing programs to serve more students and improve quality. Recent studies have shown that 88 percent of teachers say summer learning programs are important to students’ success and 85 percent of families support public investment in summer programs. </p><p>The House and Senate continue to show strong support for 21st Century Community Learning Centers, Title IV Part A, and other key funding that supports summer programs in budget allocations. </p><p>On the state level, it is crucial for policymakers to allocate federal funding received toward more quality summer and afterschool opportunities, as well as increase regular state education funding to include financial support for summer and afterschool programs. We are also encouraging local leaders to take advantage of the specific allowable use of funds for summer learning cited in the <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/unpacking-the-federal-response-to-covid-19-in-education.aspx">CARES ACT</a> [the federal relief act in response to COVID-19]&#160;and to continue to promote additional local funding for summer learning. State policymakers could support summer learning and close the opportunity gap for children in their state by adding or refining language about summer learning and afterschool learning in their state school finance formulas and in statues, describe key components of successful opportunities as principles for which the funding should be spent. </p><p><strong>Given the current context, is NSLA doing anything different for Summer Learning Week this year?</strong></p><p>Summer may look different this year, but it isn’t canceled. Even if we can’t all be together, summer programs are adapting and innovating to ensure children and their families can access quality summer learning opportunities and critical supports and services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. </p><p>To that end, we are offering&#160;numerous new resources and launching our national Keep All Kids Healthy and Learning billboard advertising campaign. In addition, with the move to many more virtual programs and events during this pandemic, NSLA is celebrating the week with <a href="https&#58;//www.summerlearning.org/summer-learning-week/theme-days-and-resources/">different theme days</a> and by lifting up inspiring program examples and resources with national webinars each day co-hosted with innovative summer learning partners and leaders. </p><p><em>To find out more about NSLA’s daily webinars and other&#160;resources for Summer Learning Week, visit the organization’s </em><a href="https&#58;//www.summerlearning.org/summer-learning-week/"><em>website</em></a><em>.</em></p> Wallace editorial team792020-07-08T04:00:00ZThis Year’s National Summer Learning Week Celebrates a Wide Variety of Opportunities Still Available to Kids Across America7/8/2020 4:27:06 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Though it May Look Different, Summer Is Not Canceled This Year’s National Summer Learning Week Celebrates a Wide Variety of 207https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Bringing Out the Best in Principals During the COVID-19 Crisis23637GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p class="wf-Element-IntroParagraph">“When I look back, it feels like a year ago,” says Jill Baker, deputy superintendent of Long Beach Unified School District, reflecting on the district’s response in the days following its March 13 decision to close its 85 schools owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. Long Beach Unified is California’s third largest school district, serving nearly 72,000 children from diverse backgrounds. Baker began her career in the district as a teacher 28 years ago and is scheduled to take over as its superintendent on August 1, succeeding Christopher Steinhauser, who is retiring. Baker brings a unique perspective to the job, having directed the district’s participation in a Wallace Foundation initiative aimed at reshaping the principal supervisor job to focus less on administration and more on principal growth. Recently, Baker spoke about the district’s efforts to support principals during the closure, its summer plans for school leadership development and what school may look like in September. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.&#160; &#160;&#160;</p><p> <strong>How has your district supported principals during the school closures? </strong></p><p> <img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Bringing-Out-the-Best-in-Principals-During-the-COVID-19-Crisis/Jill-Baker-headshot.jpg" alt="Jill-Baker-headshot.jpg" class="wf-Image-Left" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;160px;height&#58;241px;" />We are very fortunate that over the last five years, we’ve built a strong coaching model for our <a href="/knowledge-center/school-leadership/pages/principal-supervisors.aspx">principal supervision practices</a>. Why is that important now? Because the relationship between our principal supervisors and principals has a coaching foundation, it is easy for them to move into unknown territory when faced with a crisis. Our principal supervisors have been right on the frontlines with principals, coaching them, asking good questions, advocating for them and bringing the lived experience of principals back to central office. </p><p> <strong>Can you describe that lived experience? </strong></p><p>Principals were immediately faced with a set of questions that they had never experienced before, just as we were at central office. They were faced with families asking for resources that they had not asked for before, their students had technology needs, Internet needs. [The school closures] tossed up into the air every system that a principal typically manages, from teacher evaluations to nutrition services in their building.</p><p>Because of how we’ve built our principal supervision practices, principals quickly looked to their supervisors for direction, for comfort, for answers. It was a huge pivot for a system that’s pretty directing, in terms of our expectations for schools, but also gives principals a lot of latitude to make specific decisions for their building. I would say that the lived experience for principals right away was&#58; We need you to lead us. We trust you as our supervisors to help us.</p><p> <img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Bringing-Out-the-Best-in-Principals-During-the-COVID-19-Crisis/LBUSD-Barton-39.jpg" alt="LBUSD-Barton-39.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /> <br> </p><p>Personally, I’ve never underestimated the whole idea of coaching and strengthening a trusting relationship between a principal and a supervisor, but I think the field may have. When you go through a crisis like this, it underscores why you have relationships. It is a foundational aspect of having to do really hard work. I hesitate to use the word “thrive” because this is such a sad time, but [the crisis] really has brought out the best in our school leaders. It has been a very rich opportunity for them to step up, try things they’ve never done before, be vulnerable and learn with others. </p><p> <strong>What inequities have been brought to the forefront because of the crisis? Has the district been able to address them, and if so, how? </strong></p><p>On the afternoon that we closed schools, we gathered at central office and literally said, “What do we need to focus on first?” In the back of my mind was Maslow’s hierarchy. Our first decision was that, on Monday morning, we were going to offer food at every school in our district. We did that, and we continued doing so until we could look at the data after the first week to see where our highest-need areas were. Some areas were obvious, but frankly every school has children with a need to eat. Our response has continued in a way that is so respectful to our community. We’re providing breakfast, lunch and dinner in our highest-need areas. There are almost 30 locations, and the meals are accessible to anyone. There are no requirements, no applications. </p><p>We also faced the same connectivity problems that other districts faced. One of our first purchases, literally days after the closure, was for 5,000 six-month-term hotspots because we estimated that about 10 percent of our students, or about 7,000, were potentially not connected to the Internet. In addition to giving away 20,000 older-generation Chromebooks, we came up with a system to loan more than 10,000 [newer] Chromebooks to families within two weeks of the closure. </p><p>The other needs have been sadly not surprising. Students in low-income families lack supervision as their parents go out and work as essential workers. They may be living with multiple families in one residence and are facing COVID spread because of essential workers coming in and out. We’re offering counseling digitally and are partnering with faith-based and race-based community agencies, like the NAACP, to ensure they are able to put out really good information on behalf of the district. </p><p>We’re using all of our existing programs to continue to focus on issues of equity. For example, we run a Saturday education program for students from migrant families. During the crisis, a coordinator from that program has done outreach to families. High-school teachers who work with newcomers who are English language learners have continued to connect with families, too.</p><p> <strong>Summer is a time when school districts hire and train principals. How will that be handled in Long Beach this year? </strong> <br> <strong>&#160;</strong><br> Last year, we had 80 principal promotions or changes. This year it will be 20. Five of those are first-time principals, all of whom have gone through the district’s “pipeline” programs [which provide training for aspiring school leaders]. We’re only making changes that are of necessity, such as because of a retirement. Normally, we would move around many more principals because they’re ready to transition to another school, but we’ve paused that because we want to create as much stability as possible.</p><p>Literally the day after a person finds out that they’ve been appointed principal or that they’re transitioning to another school, we launch a transition process that involves a facilitated change-of-principal workshop. The workshop engages members of the school staff to establish what’s working and what they’d like to see improved. It’s really important, and we’ll do a version of it this summer, too. </p><p> <strong>How has the district involved principals in the planning for when school resumes in September? </strong></p><p>Our principals have been an important part of our initial planning. I say initial because we’re really tracking on the health data. We’re trying to move fast enough but not too fast. Over the last month, our principal supervisors asked principals to explore all kinds of scenarios for the fall. Middle school principals, for example, considered 16 different models and in small groups worked through each one’s plusses and minuses. We went from a lot of brainstorming and testing of ideas, to now moving into a formalized planning process. We have task forces, and principals from every level are represented on them. </p><p> <strong>What might school look like in the fall, based on your initial plans?</strong></p><p>Our aim is to bring back as many students to a building as possible, especially at the elementary school level. That’s causing us to seek additional space in our city, through partnerships with local colleges and universities who will be providing distance learning/instruction. &#160;</p><p>We’re also talking about blending learning. A middle school student, for example, might not come to school every day. He might come Monday and Tuesday, then do distance learning Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Based on distancing requirements, we know that we can only have about 15 students in a classroom. That is about half the size of a traditional class and even less when you think about a class like chorus. Chorus might only exist in a distance environment because students can’t all be in one room at the same time. </p><p>We already have an independent study program in our high schools, which we will continue, and we’ll also be launching some new distance academies. How we’re going to do all of this—in-class learning, blending learning, distance academies—we’re still figuring out. But we imagine publishing the options and letting parents make a choice. If they don’t, we’ll likely default to expecting their student to come to a building.* </p><p> <strong>Like school districts everywhere, Long Beach Unified is facing a massive budget cut because of the pandemic. I’ve read that the reduction will be 10 percent, or about $70 million, this year. How do you stay focused on equity as you make cuts?</strong></p><p>We’re in a better position than other districts because of great fiscal management. Our superintendent and the district’s budget office built up a reserve over time, knowing the rainy day would come. The reserves won’t save us from future cuts, but it allows us time to make the best decisions given what’s coming from the state. We also have in our favor that we’ve worked really hard to build internal capacity. We don’t rely on a lot of consultants or outside companies. Because of our internal capacity, we can pivot quickly, change strategy and work together in a way that doesn’t happen in a lot of places.</p><p> <img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Bringing-Out-the-Best-in-Principals-During-the-COVID-19-Crisis/IMG_0660-2.jpg" alt="IMG_0660-2.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /> <br> </p><p>Our focus on equity is at a deep level. During this time, we’ve not stepped back from our equity agenda, but we’ve had some public outcry over things that have been perceived to be “taken away” from students as we navigated through the school closure and made decisions based on our equity philosophy. This meant that we were not privileging students who were not struggling during the school closure. When we closed schools, for example, we decided that grading for high-school classes would be credit/no credit, even if you’re a junior taking five Advanced Placement classes. There was a public outcry, and our school board had to entertain an item on its agenda to uphold the district’s stance on grading and not give an opt-in for parents who wanted their students to get an A. [These parents] had to accept that credit/no credit was good for <em>all </em>students, even if their student wasn’t going to get the extra bump they would have liked. When you really get down into the details of equity, it is not equitable to privilege a student when another student doesn’t have the opportunity for that same experience. However, we do have to pay attention to the voices that are coming out about grades. We don’t want families to walk away from our district and go to a private school because they are frustrated about grades at a time when we’re already facing huge cuts.&#160;&#160;&#160; </p><p> <em>*After we published this post, Jill Baker <a href="https&#58;//www.lbschools.net/Asset/Videos/external.cfm?videoID=2575#anchor_2575" target="_blank">announced</a> that for the coming school year, the Long Beach school district would delay in-person instruction until at least October 2020.</em></p> Jennifer Gill832020-07-07T04:00:00ZJill Baker, incoming chief of a large California district, discusses education priorities—and why principal supervision matters now7/15/2020 5:04:33 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Bringing Out the Best in Principals During the COVID-19 Crisis Jill Baker, incoming chief of a large California district 605https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx

​​​​​​​