Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Ed.D. Doctor of Education

Academic Discipline

Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Geri Chesner

Second Advisor

Dr. Kristin Lems

Third Advisor

Dr. James Fitzpatrick


As the linguistic and cultural diversity across America’s classrooms steadily increases, educators are searching for ways to meet the needs of their students. The linguistic and cultural resources our students bring are a tremendous asset, yet our country has not been able to fully realize the potential of a diverse population. While multilingual students are often perceived to lack background knowledge, connections to school, and linguistic resources, the arts have the capacity to increase engagement, connect to diverse cultural backgrounds, and transcend language barriers. In this study, I explore the ways in which educational equity may be achieved to a greater extent for culturally and linguistically diverse students through the natural inclusivity that is embodied through the study and creation of the arts. My findings from student, teacher, and leader focus groups, student survey data, as well as a review of literature indicate that deep, authentic learning experiences through the arts could be a strong leverage point for multilingual learners to learn both language and content simultaneously by providing meaningful connections, non-English dependent instruction, and equitable representation. Yet, in many states across the nation, policies that center the importance of the arts are absent. This study explores how re-centering the arts in schools across the nation will not only allow culturally and linguistically diverse students more equitable access to education but will also enhance 21st-century learning for all students. Such a shift could change the trajectory of education in the United States.