Bringing Field Trips Back to Public Schools

Bringing Field Trips Back to Public Schools

“The field trip, once woven into the American school experience, is in decline,” reported Jay Mathews, education columnist and blogger for The Washington Post. “The practice might diminish even further if we don’t do something about it,” he warned.

Like schools nationwide, many Arizona schools, especially those with federal Title 1 status, do not have the resources for field trips. At Act One, we are doing something about it.

The Problem: Time and Money

Educators struggle to find the time and resources for field trips. They cite increased demands on class time due to heavier workloads, academic mandates and standardized tests. Even with free or reduced admission to a venue, educators are hard-pressed to justify expensive bus costs in the face of tight budgets.
 
Locally, one in four schools do not participate in arts-based field trips, according to the 2010 report of the Arizona Arts Education Census Project. The report stated, “Of those schools who have not participated in Arts Field trips … the number one barrier to participation was identified as ’budget constraints’.”

What Students are Missing

Arts-based field trips support and augment classroom learning. They can help a student understand the required subjects. Many museums and performing arts organizations design educational experiences and materials tailored to the curriculum.  Arts-focused field trips also can fill in the gaps in the standards. “They give students access to culture, history, and art that may be left out of the regular curriculum,” notes Eye On Education Editor Lauren Beebe.

Steven Tepper, Dean of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at ASU, believes arts-based field trips can be transformative for students. In a recent interview with Act One, Dean Tepper explores the interplay of the arts and learning. View his remarks in the video below:

 

Act One Founder Mac Perlich and Dean Steven Tepper from ASU discuss the importance of the arts for students.

Act One in Action

Act One supporters share a determination to bring arts field trips back to public schools. Act One serves the most time-strapped and under-resourced educators—those at schools where the majority of students are receiving free and reduced lunch based on family income. The impact is felt most harshly by minority students. As Steven Tepper notes, minority children have seen a “50% drop in their access to the arts in the last decade.”

Act One provides educators with easy access to a schedule of field trips to exhibits and performances. The 2017-2018 field trip schedule opened this week and makes 42,000 seats available for students. Act One supplies educational materials to help teachers prepare their students for the field trip. Recognizing the need to relieve transportation costs, Act One pays for charter buses or reimburses schools that use district buses.

Educators long for field trip experiences for their students, and Act One makes them happen. Middle school teacher Michael Janatovich blogged, “I’m sure the teacher in all of us has been somewhere and said, ‘It would be awesome to bring my class here.’ So why not take them there? I know we live in a world with budget cuts and no-field-trip policies, but if you have the ability to go, take students and explore, learn, experience and grow.”

Resources:

Beebe, Lauren, "Why We Need to Save Field Trips," Eye on Education, Education World, 2012, Read Article

Janatovich, Michael, "Middle Grades Kids Need Field Trips," Middleweb, October 11, 2015, Read Article

Mathews, Jay, "Children learn much from field trips that they can't get from lectures or textbooks," On Parenting, The Washington Post, January 29, 2014, Read Article

Provini, Celine, "Why Field Trips Still Matter," Education World, 2011, Read Article

Quadrant Arts Education Research, Arizona Arts Education Census Project, July 29, 2010, Read Report Summary