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  • Foreword:Painting Ourselves Out of a Corner
  • Tyler Denmead, Editor

This special issue investigates how community-based arts education (CBAE) and art teacher licensure might together influence postsecondary art education programs. Art teacher licensure programs have historically rendered CBAE as “invisible” (Bolin, Blandy, & Congdon, 2000) or as a “resource” that art teachers can integrate into their school classrooms (Day, 1997, pp. 20–21). But a shift is underway as art education programs continue to expand their audience and relevance beyond the sole limits of K–12 teacher licensure. Numerous art education programs, for example, now attempt to integrate art teacher licensure and community arts practice. Yet the distance between school-based art teaching and CBAE, in theory and in practice, remains. This special issue makes advances in bridging this gap.

We can speculate on reasons why programs are integrating licensure and CBAE, some pedagogic and others pragmatic. From a pedagogic perspective, early field experiences in community centers, schools, museums, and alternative educational sites draw into relief contextual considerations including physical environment, socio-cultural factors, and economic and political challenges (Stokrocki, 2004). Drawing these considerations into relief deepens and extends the pedagogy and curriculum of art teachers no matter their future setting of choice. Teaching across these settings also blurs professional boundaries and unnecessary divisions between artists, educators, cultural producers, activists, and schoolteachers. Problematizing these divisions is occurring through the so-called “pedagogical turn,” a significant contemporary art genre that emphasizes dematerialized and social practices, a turn that transgresses the traditional divide between studio practice and art education (Granville, 2011; Podesva, 2012). We also know our graduates’ career [End Page v] pathways will be dynamic and unlimited to specific sites. For example, only a third of newly licensed teachers who graduate from U.S. institutions are teaching in schools the following year (National Center for Education Information, 2014); and, three-quarters of so-called “teaching artists” who are employed by museums, theaters, or community organizations report being sent to teach in K–12 schools (Rabkin, Reynolds, Hedberg, & Shelby, 2011). Through integrating CBAE and licensure, we prepare our graduates to embrace multiple professional identities and to teach across settings with critical, contextual, and creative approaches that are fit for public life.

The convergence of CBAE and art teacher licensure might also be occurring for pragmatic reasons. Teacher licensure programs appear to be facing a decline in enrollment, at least in the United States (Sawchuk, 2014), and alternative licensure pathways are on the rise (National Center for Education Information, 2014). One cause for this trend might be ideological, and this ideology has global reach; Sahlburg ( refers to it pejoratively as “The Global Education Reform Movement” or “GERM.” Schoolteachers and postsecondary teacher licensure programs are pegged as one culprit for the perceived failings of public school systems. The National Council on Teacher Quality, for example, has amplified this public sentiment in the United States by harshly grading teacher licensure programs ( The “narrowing of the curriculum” in public schools is also an unavoidable response to high-stakes testing (Berliner, 2011), which likely contributes to the perception and reality that there are fewer jobs in K–12 art teaching. In the United States, the rate of 18-year olds reporting that they have taken any classes or lessons in any art during their childhood declined from 65% to less than 50% between 1982 and 2008. These broader social pressures are forcing art education programs to consider their audience and relevance beyond K-12 schooling. Indeed, these programs must, I would argue, paint themselves out of a corner defined by the narrow purview of K–12 licensure. By considering the mutual influences of CBAE and art teacher certification, art education programs can broaden their audience, develop resonant pedagogy and curriculum that is more relevant to current and potential students, and fulfill the public missions of postsecondary institutions (Bastos, 2007).

Yet there remain barriers to this integration. Faculty in art education programs might lack the professional identities needed to consider the mutual implications of CBAE and licensure. Only 10% of art education faculty identified “activist” as best describing their professional identity (Milbrandt and Klein, 2008); this identity may be...


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