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For Immediate Release
April 10, 2006

Illinois State Board of Education announces new funding for arts education and foreign language programs

Springfield, IL – The Illinois State Board of Education today (April 10), announced a new grant program to assist school districts in providing arts and foreign language programming. The funding, appropriated in the FY06 budget, will assist districts with engaging in a planning process to develop new or strengthen existing arts education and foreign language curricula. The annual grants will range from $10,000 to $50,000 depending on the size of district, the scope of the program, and the level of planning required.

The Illinois State Board of Education has been discussing with Illinois Creates, a statewide arts education coalition led by the Illinois Arts Alliance, how to ensure all students receive a well-rounded education that includes instruction in subjects such as art and music. The Arts and Foreign Language grant program is the State’s first step in demonstrating its commitment to the arts and foreign languages as core learning areas. Other states that support district-wide arts education planning, including California, Maryland, South Carolina and Washington, have found that school systems that go through a strategic planning process typically transform their arts education programs and see improvement in student achievement in the arts and beyond.

“The benefit students get from a curriculum that requires students to create, examine, explore, interpret, and respond goes way beyond the payoffs that come just from academic improvement and test scores. We need to encourage creativity in all schools and provide opportunities for our students to demonstrate and deepen their understanding of the arts,” said Randy Dunn, Superintendent, Illinois State Board of Education. “Not only do the arts provide for a broader and more well-rounded education, but we have even more evidence that the arts create new mental pathways that contribute to a deeper understanding in fields like engineering, technology, and medicine,” he said.

A survey released on March 28, 2006 by the Center on Education Policy in Washington, D.C. found that since the passage of the federal No Child Left Behind law, 71 percent of the nation's 15,000 school districts had reduced the hours of instructional time spent on history, music and other subjects to open up more time for reading and math. This national research is consistent with a study done by the Illinois Arts Alliance in 2005 that found that 20 percent of Illinois principals reported having no arts program of any kind in their school.

“Even though the arts are recognized as a core learning area in Illinois and a core academic subject in No Child Left Behind, there has been a steady erosion of arts education programs throughout the state,” says Alene Valkanas, Executive Director, Illinois Arts Alliance. “The new grant program will provide legitimacy for the arts as a core subject and offer districts the opportunity to develop the means to measure the effectiveness of their arts education programs and identify areas where improvement could occur.”

Districts seeking these funds must demonstrate need and plans for continued implementation in future years with local funds. Funding in subsequent years will be contingent upon a sufficient appropriation for the program and satisfactory progress in the preceding grant period. The Illinois State Board of Education has recommended a $1 million increase or total appropriation of $3 million for the Arts and Foreign Language grant program in the FY07 budget.

Districts can find more information on the Arts and Foreign Language grant program at by calling Lou Berkman at 312/814-3853 or Joyce Krumtinger at 217/577-7323 in the Division of Curriculum and Instruction. For more information on Illinois Creates, please visit

There will be bidders conferences at the following times and locations:

SPRINGFIELD – From 1 to 4 p.m. April 18 at the Illinois State Board of Education, 100 N. First St. Springfield, Illinois

CHICAGO – From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 20 at the James R. Thompson Center, 100 W. Randolph, Chicago, Illinois.

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Illinois State Board of Education
100 North First Street
Springfield, IL 62777