On Transparency and SEADAE

Last month, Ana Cardona, a fellow founder, blogged about SEADAE’s “growth to reap rewards, doing no harm and staying true to kids.”

I would like to follow up on her good work with a few thoughts about transparency.

As we move forward, sometimes it is helpful to look backward. In the late 1960s both NAEA and MENC had state directors sub-groups. Not until later - in the early 1980s - did the groups at the state level convene and attempt to create a “loose” organization that added dance and theatre to our roster of art forms because we believed they should be included with visual arts and music in the overall arts education curriculum.

The major movement at that time was the development of national standards and assessments. CCSSO started SCASS thanks to Frank Phillip, who retired from the Michigan Department of Education and had moved to CCSSO. He led the charge on creating standards and the NAEP assessments of our four art forms.  Scott Shuler (CN), Larry Pino (KA), Joan Peterson (CA), Patty Taylor- Guttermute (CA), Rodger Hyman (NY), Jay Tucker (MD), Jean Rollins (TX), Vicki Breen (NM) and Gina May (WA) and others were the state leaders that were involved at that time.  

During this process,  this non-organization “organization” worked  through CCSSO, MENC and other groups to maintain a national presence. However, as state directors we lost our visibility as a group. We also lost control of our meeting agendas and our funding. (The costs to bring together all state departments of education directors of arts education was well over $80,000.) These meetings were led by other groups as were the agendas. The last to fund us was The J.P. Getty Foundation, and prior to that, we were funded by the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations.  Based on this history and our need to control the state directors’ meeting agendas to address states’ issues, SEADAE forged ahead.

Many meetings, with leaders in various groups, agencies and funders including AEP, NEA, Heinz, Wallace, US DOE, the Kennedy Center, NASAA and CCSSO moved us forward year by year, then month by month.  This led to our first application to the NEA for funding. Pennsylvania took this lead and NASAA, thanks to Jonathan Katz, served as the first fiduciary. The next year the NEA grant moved to California AAE. Our logo design came from a Texas artist. Our first strategic plan consultant came from Arizona, then later, from Michigan. The use of technologies was the key to keeping our expenses down. There was no SKYPE or WEBEX, so we created our own custom communications program thanks to Cinemagic. So “innovative “ were our NEA applications that NEA presented the SEADAE model of leadership and vision to the U.S. Congress as an “outstanding use of federal dollars.”  

By the third year, we knew that we needed to create our own non-profit. Deb Hansen, Ana Cardona and I worked hard to get those first grants and then to get the non-profit status. Our beliefs and the vision created at that time were very clear: transparency, transparency and more transparency. This belief is still critical for SEADAE to be stable and to move forward. Every grant application, meeting minutes and treasurer’s reports are posted on the website’s backside. So are the reports from our fellow SEADAE members who attend meetings on our behalf such as CCSSO/AEP, ECS, Americans for the Arts (AFTA) and others. SEADAE’s old and new websites provides open communications for ALL members.  

Running a non-profit is hard work. Our members are from all across the USA and it would take only a few hours of work every week from each of us to maintain and improve our transparency, visibility and integrity. We can be proud that not one state, but all states have supported us to be stronger and more relevant to our mission.

With our great manager, Cory Wilkerson, and with the help of other members and retirees, we can maintain our organization to meet the needs of our state directors in this constantly changing educational milieu, remembering always that “transparency” is critical for trust as we grow.

I am eager and honored to continue to support SEADEA’s website and fundraising as a volunteer.

If you wish to reach Beth L. Cornell please email her at

Retired PA Arts and Humanities Advisor, PA Department of Education
Retired Mentor, PA Classrooms for the Future
President, The Civic Club of Harrisburg

Posted: 09/05/2012