Date of Award


Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Rebecca Stephenson

Second Advisor

Ernesto Colin

Third Advisor

Karen Huchting


An arts equity gap exists in K–12 grade education. African American and Latinx students have fewer opportunities for access to arts education than do White students. In California, charter schools have an opportunity to address the equity gap for students in those demographic groups. The goal of this qualitative case study was to observe how Kahlo Charter Elementary School, an urban charter elementary school in Los Angeles County, implemented an arts integrated curriculum and to identify benefits and challenges for fourth and fifth grade students of color enrolled at the school. Aesthetic learning (Bose, 2008; Denaway, 2013; Greene, 1978, 1995, 2001; Holzer, 2009), arts integration (Silverstein & Layne, 2010), and Different Ways of Knowing (DwoK) (Johannesen, 1997, 2004) formed the conceptual framework for this study. Participants included fourth- and fifth-grade Latinx and African American students, one 12th-grade student, one parent each, grade level teachers, and arts specialist teachers, and administrators. Data sources included semi-structured interviews, a focus group, observation of classes and observations of school events. Inductive analysis was used to identify themes in the data. The approach at the school was primarily a constructivist, arts-integrated curriculum.

Teachers created units from primary source materials and discipline specific visual and performing arts courses complimented the arts-integrated curriculum. Students evidenced increased self confidence, ease of self expression, development of imagination, engagement with school, and empathy of others.

However, challenges included uneven implementation across classrooms. The study serves as an example for charter school leaders interested in planning an arts integrated curriculum and provides school leaders with a model program to analyze.