Celebrating Chicago’s Bold Vision for Arts Education in Public Schools

Screen Shot 2013-08-27 at 11.39.42 AM

As the City of Portland prepares to disseminate the proceeds of the groundbreaking new Arts Education & Access Fund for the first time to Portland school districts, we can celebrate the restoration of arts teachers to every Portland elementary school and weekly arts education for every K-5 student. But many feel that a grander plan may be necessary to fully restore arts education in Portland’s public schools.

Nationally, the cities of Seattle, Boston and Chicago are leading the charge to improve educational opportunities in their schools through the arts. And in Chicago especially, the plan to return the arts, in every form, for every student, every grade and every school could transform public education as we know it.

At the end of 2012, the City of Chicago partnered with Chicago Public Schools to unveil a bold vision for bringing arts education to over 400,000 Chicago Public School students. Timed to coincide with the release of the City’s Cultural Plan, Chicago is reflecting on its cultural legacy and making “no small plans” for the role the arts and culture will play in the future of Chicago and the lives of its citizens.

Chicago’s three-year Arts Education Plan promises a comprehensive and sequential study of visual art, music, dance, and theater from Pre K-12th grade and outlines goals and recommendations to systematically improve, expand and strategically coordinate arts education for all Chicago Public School students. The plan insures a robust arts education will be part of every student’s experience from the day they start school to the day they graduate and hones in on policy, curriculum, capacity, partnerships and data to build, implement and measure success. Plan highlights include:

  • Establishing the arts as a core subject
  • Expanding the number of art forms offered to include visual art, music, dance and drama
  • Expanding high school graduation requirements
  • Increasing staffing levels for arts instructors in schools
  • Launching an ArtSmart School Designation to support principals
  • Mapping and aligning arts curriculum to the new Common Core Standards
  • Identifying and activitating an Arts Liaison in each school
  • Creating a system to track elementary school-level arts data
  • Creating a School Leadership Guide in the Arts

Chicago’s civic and educational leaders believe that our public schools have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to ensure that the arts, in all its forms, are part of our children’s everyday experience in the classroom. And many here in Portland, share that belief.

Screen Shot 2013-08-27 at 11.39.55 AM

New national report analyzes the impact of gender, race and socioeconomic status on arts graduates

Findings from a national study released this summer by the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project show that a postsecondary arts education affords some unique advantages for women, people of color and low income students. However, significant gaps remain and inequalities persist related to school debt, racial diversity within artistic occupations and disparities in earnings by gender.

The report, “An Uneven Canvas: Inequalities in Artistic Training and Careers,” details findings from more than 65,000 arts alumni of all ages from 120 institutions in the United States and Canada. Participating schools include public and private institutions: research universities, colleges of art and design, conservatories, liberal arts colleges, and arts high schools.

Alumni from disadvantaged backgrounds work as artists and persist in artistic careers at similar rates to those from more privileged families. Female graduates who work in the arts seem to face no wage penalty for having children or dependents, unlike women working in most other fields.

Graduates of color may be more likely to go into more commercially oriented and higher-paying arts careers, such as Web design or graphic arts. In fact, a slightly higher percentage of black alumni (47 percent) who work primarily within the arts earned over $50,000 in the previous year, compared to whites (45 percent), Asians (45 percent) and Hispanics (43 percent).

However, SNAAP data reveal that students who majored in the arts are not immune to patterns of inequality found in other educational disciplines. For example, 76 percent of black alumni and 72 percent of Hispanics accrued student loan debt in order to attend their institutions, compared to 52 percent of white alumni and 44 percent of Asians. And, only 24 percent of white respondents cited debt as a barrier to their artistic careers, compared to 36 percent and 41 percent respectively for Hispanic and black alumni. Further, blacks who carry school debt are less likely to work as artists compared to blacks with no debt (53 percent and 64 percent, respectively).

“These findings reinforce the widely known fact that debt can have significant repercussions for the career paths of graduates across all types of educational institutions, especially for minority students,” said Vanderbilt professor Steven J. Tepper, research director for SNAAP. “Arts schools are no exception. This is just further evidence that issues of access and equality do not end at admissions but can often follow graduates throughout their careers.”

Other key findings in the 2013 SNAAP Annual Report include:

  • Arts graduates are overwhelmingly satisfied with their ability to be creative at work; 92 percent of first-generation students and 89 percent of black and Hispanic graduates are satisfied with their ability to be creative at their primary job
  • Having had private art lessons at some point in their lives seems to benefit blacks more than whites. In terms of working as professional artists, the gap between blacks and whites almost disappears when the advantage of having had private lessons is factored in
  • Social and professional networks are more important for minority alumni than for whites. Among those who have ever worked as artists, 74 percent of black, Hispanic and Asian alumni report that “a strong network of peers and colleagues” has been important for success in their artistic careers compared to 70 percent of white alumni.
  • 36 percent of black alumni and 34 percent of Hispanic alumni took longer than the recommended amount of time to complete their degree, as compared to 30 percent of white alumni.
  • Income gaps remain between men and women regardless of when they graduated.

“As we try to build a more inclusive and diverse arts community and industry that reflects the nation’s population and cultural histories, this report documents some of the disparities that persist for women, minorities and disadvantaged students in training and pursuing a career in the arts,” said Abel Lopez, SNAAP National Advisory Board member and chair of Americans for the Arts in Washington, D.C. “More importantly, the study identifies areas where our educational institutions can take action to address these inequities, which can lead to greater participation in the arts by diverse communities in our country. I look forward to seeing actions that will result in this change.”

Screen Shot 2013-08-08 at 5.10.33 PM

 

 

 

 

Ten Simple Ways to bring more art into kids’ lives

Learning in the arts enables every child to develop the critical thinking, collaborative, and creative skills necessary to succeed in today’s ever-changing world.

But what if your child’s school doesn’t provide classes in art, music, dance, and theater? Here are ten simple ways that parents can get more art into their kids’ lives:

  1. Participate  Sing, play music, read a book, dance, or draw with your child at home.
  2. Support  Encourage your child to participate in creative outlets and celebrate their participation in arts activities both in their school and the community.
  3. Go Read  Visit your local library and read “the classics” together—from Mother Goose to Walt Whitman.
  4. Speak Up  Attend a school board or PTA meeting and voice your support for adequately funded arts education programs as part of the school’s budget.  Brush up on the facts about arts education beforehand.
  5. Take The Lead  Tell your child’s teacher or principal about how vital the arts are to quality education. Ask them what they need and how you can help!
  6. Think Local  Read your local newspapers and check in regularly with the Regional Arts & Culture Council and CAN to find out about local arts and cultural events for you and your child to enjoy.
  7. Volunteer  Donate time, supplies, or other resources to your child’s school or a local arts organization’s education programs.
  8. Join The Cause  Join CAN and Americans for the Arts’ Cause campaign called ” Keep the Arts in Public Schools.” It’s free!
  9. Be An Advocate  Show your support for arts education by speaking with education leaders and decision makers. Connect with CAN, the Oregon Art Education Association and Americans for the Arts to take action locally, statewide and nationally.
  10. Stay Informed  Keep up to date on the latest arts education news by subscribing to the RSS Feed on CAN and ARTSblog.

Screen Shot 2013-08-08 at 5.10.49 PM

 

Student Show Celebrates National Arts Education Partnership

Who: The Right Brain Initiative and King PK-8 School

What: Student art show

Where: Community Room at North Portland Library, 512 N Killingsworth

When: Show on view through Aug. 30, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-07-30 at 9.38.48 PM

Starting Tuesday, July 23, the North Portland Library will feature stunning black-and-white images of local 1st and 2nd graders and their neighbors. All work was produced this spring by students at Northeast Portland’s King PK-8 School during an arts education program facilitated by The Right Brain Initiative.

This display celebrates the partnership between Right Brain, a Portland non-profit arts-in-schools program, and King, one of eight public schools in the nation selected for the Turnaround Arts initiative. Turnaround Arts is a new public-private partnership of the President’s Committee for the Arts and the Humanities, chaired by Michelle Obama. It is determined to boost achievement at some of the lowest performing schools in the country by providing students with full access to high-quality arts experiences.

Right Brain partnered with King this year to provide an essential part of the school’s new arts offerings. Right Brain provided artist residencies to all classrooms and professional development for King staff, which gave teachers tools to naturally integrate the arts into their daily teaching.

“It was an obvious choice to link King School with Right Brain’s dynamic arts programming,” said Katy Mayo-Hudson, the Portland-based Implementation Coordinator for Turnaround Arts. “Right Brain and Turnaround Arts share a commitment to integrated arts education and a belief that creative experiences are non-negotiable for every child. This is a natural and symbiotic partnership.”

The work on view at the North Portland Library was created by 1st and 2nd graders. Partnering with King staff, Right Brain teaching artist and Portland Creative Laureate Julie Keefe integrated the students’ International Baccalaureate curriculum about neighborhoods into a photography project that investigated identity and community. Students interviewed each other and adults from the neighborhood, using portraits and writing to explore how individuals fit within their greater ecosystem.

The program was a perfect match for King School, a community in transition. In recent years, King has struggled with low test scores and student enrollment which dropped from 458 in 2006 to 288. Under the guidance of Kim Patterson, the school’s energetic new principal, King leaders have made the arts an essential part of student learning and community development. Right Brain’s programming has seamlessly supported King’s achievement goals.

The opening reception on July 23 will feature video documentation from King’s first year working with Right Brain. King students and staff, Right Brain leaders and other community partners will be in attendance to celebrate a productive and creative year.

The Right Brain Initiative is a sustainable partnership of public schools, local government, foundations, businesses and the cultural community, which launched its effort to bring the arts to every child in the Portland area in January 2009. The program’s vision is to transform learning for all children through the arts, creativity, innovation and whole-brain thinking. The Right Brain Initiative is a project of the Regional Arts & Culture Council, with Young Audiences of Oregon & SW Washington serving as Implementation Partner. Read more online at www.TheRightBrainInitiative.org.

The Regional Arts & Culture Council is the local arts agency for Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington Counties, providing grants for artists, schools and nonprofit organizations; conducting workplace giving for arts and culture (“Work for Art”) and other advocacy efforts; presenting workshops and other forms of technical assistance; providing printed and web-based resources for artists; and integrating art into public spaces. Online at www.racc.org.

Where does your school stand on Arts Education?

The first step to supporting arts education is understanding your school and/or district’s strengths and weaknesses. Americans for the Arts has developed 15 questions to ask yourself and your education leaders to determine where your school and district currently stand with arts education.

These questions and the benchmarks provided address some of the indicators of a high quality arts program.

  1. Does your district implement either your state’s instructional standards or  the national standards for arts education?  Benchmark: Standards define what students should know and be able to do in any given academic discipline and are the basis for high quality arts instruction.
  2. Does your school or district have a designated minimum amount of time for instruction in the arts?  Benchmark: One class per week should be the least amount of time—one class per day is ideal.
  3. Is there a high school arts  requirement for graduation?  Benchmark: Many colleges require at least a year of arts study for admission, so make sure that your kids are college-ready by having this requirement in place.
  4. Does your school district have an instructional leader in the arts, such as an arts coordinator? Does s/he need community support to expand or improve the arts program?  Benchmark: If there is no arts coordinator, often the director of curriculum and instruction can serve in this role.
  5. Does your school district have a written arts education policy approved by the school board?  Benchmark: A district policy can protect the arts program in times of budget reductions and administrative changes. If you don’t have a policy, here are  some examples.
  6. Does your school or district have a written plan for the arts program?Benchmark (if yes): ensure that all arts disciplines are included (music, visual arts, theater, dance, and media arts) and that all children in the district are covered by the plan—not just some grade levels at some of the schools. Benchmark (if no): Work with a team of teachers, principals, and community members to put together a plan.
  7. Does your district pay for arts teachers’ salaries and instructional supplies, materials, and equipment?  Benchmark: A good goal to aim for is utilizing five percent of the district’s general budget to cover these instructional costs. Think creatively to utilize other existing funding options, such as: PTA funds, Title I funds for arts integration, Title II funds for professional development, Title III funds for arts-based ESL strategies, Titles I & III for parent involvement programs, grant funds, categorical funds, school site-based funds, community partnerships, etc.
  8. Are school district administrators supportive of the arts program? Bechmark: Support could include any or all of the following indicators: allocation of funding, creation of partnerships with community arts organizations, participation in curriculum development, providing equipment and materials, providing instructional time, providing professional development opportunities, and support for assessment of arts instruction.
  9. Does your school or district have a sufficient number of arts teachers? Benchmark:  Americans for the Arts recommends a teacher:student ratio of 1:400. Portland’s Arts Education & Access Fund guarantees a minimum of 1 certified arts teacher per 500 students in Portland’s six public school districts.
  10. Are certified arts teachers the ones delivering the arts instruction?Benchmark: While certified teachers should be the primary source of instruction, other sources of instruction can include arts integration taught by generalist teachers, or artistic residencies taught by professional artists and/or volunteers. A well rounded program will include a combination of all instructional strategies.
  11. Are professional artists involved?  Benchmark: Professional artists can bring the arts alive during performances and demonstrations at the school. Meaningful partnerships can also evolve between schools and artists through the design of long-term teaching residencies for artists and co-planning between teachers and artists.
  12. Does the arts instruction focus on more than just performing?  Benchmark: A good program will have students not only learning to perform the work of others (such as learning to play Mozart or paint like Picasso), but will also teach students to respond to work (such as appreciation and history classes) and to use self expression to create their own original works of art.
  13. Are there separate arts facilities? Benchmark: Schools should have dedicated space for arts instruction, such as music rooms, an auditorium, a visual art studio, and a dance studio.
  14. Does your school or district have the appropriate resources for arts education?  Benchmarks: Necessary supplies and equipment could include: prints, artifacts, books, videos, slides of art work, computer programs, textbooks, sheet music, art supplies like paint or clay, musical instruments, curriculum units, lesson plans, and resources for field trips or school programs presented by outside organizations.
  15. Is your community involved in arts education?  Benchmark: The community can and should provide additional resources and support to schools in terms of: facilities, volunteers, instructional support, funding, professional development opportunities, field trips, and/or any of the resources listed in the question above. If you find the answer is ‘no’ to several of these questions, work with your principal, teachers, other parents, community members, and the school board to plan for improvement.

Your Advocacy Makes a Difference

Arts Education & Access Fund

Last November, Portland voters overwhelmingly supported the establishment of the Arts Education & Access Fund to restore arts teachers to every Portland elementary school and increase access to the arts citywide. Please join us in advocating that Portland City Council act quickly and thoughtfully to shore up and secure Portland’s new Arts Tax. We want to ensure that it is successfully and efficiently collected and distributed to the classrooms and communities that it was designed to reach. E-mail Portland City Council today and share your perspective on the importance of honoring the will of the voters and investing our tax dollars in arts education and access:

Mayor Charlie Hales         Commissioner Nick Fish         Commissioner Amanda Fritz         Commissioner Steve Novick         Commissioner Dan Saltzman

Why Public Funding for the Arts Still Matters

This week, arts blogger Brian Wise covered a fascinating discussion at the Aspen Insititute about the rise in crowd-funding for the arts and creative economy. In comparing the impact and scope of Kickstarter to the National Endowment for the Arts, this discussion not only showcased the tremendous power of this innovative new revenue stream, it also touched on the essential reason to maintain public funding for the arts – public access to the arts.

As an organization that was founded to establish a new local public fund for the arts to increase public access and to strengthen the long-term viability of the arts, culture and creative communities in Portland, this conversation resonated with us at the Creative Advocacy Network.

Screen Shot 2013-07-09 at 2.48.53 PM

 

Kickstarter vs. The NEA: Which Provides More Arts Funding?

July 7, 2013 by Brian Wise, WQXR

A talk last week at the Aspen Institute reignited a debate that has been circulating in the arts world over the past year: does the website Kickstarter raise more money for the arts than the federal government? And if so, what does it say when a crowd-funding platform beats out the National Endowment for the Arts, a government agency funded by Americans’ tax dollars?

Aspen Institute president Walter Isaacson asked Kickstarter co-founder Perry Chen about number which show that the NEA received a federal appropriation of $146 million in 2012, of which 80 percent went toward grants. During the same time, Kickstarter funded roughly $323.6 million of art-related projects if you include all design, video and technology-related projects. The company has helped raise $600 million toward successful campaigns since its launch in 2009.

“It’s a big deal,” said Isaacson. “In some ways, you’ve invented something that the NEA used to do and can’t quite be now.”

Chen sought to distinguish Kickstarter’s overall goals from those of the NEA, which are more about providing public access to the arts than distributing individual grants to artists. “I like government funding of the arts,” said Chen. “I like more arts and music programs in schools so in no way do we want or hope to be competitive. Private funding of the arts is tremendous. The government pales in comparison.”

But this has long been the case, Chen added. “Mozart did this for a concerto. He had over a hundred people support him. Actually, the first time he tried to fund it, he didn’t raise the money” — he had to try again the next year before successfully funding his work.

As Washington Post columnist Katherine Boyle points out, in 2011, individuals accounted for $13 billion or 75 percent of all giving to arts and cultural charities — far more than corporations or foundations. “Kickstarter, in essence, simplifies the long-held American tradition of individual private donors giving to the arts,” she writes.

When the numbers surfaced in 2012 about Kickstarter’s successes, some took that to mean the company could eventually replace the NEA. Chen sought to praise the agency last week.

“There’s a balance,” said Chen. “Just in the same way we want governments to continue to fund arts, I don’t think we’re advocating for the shutting down of the creative industry.” He added that his hope is that “creators using a model like Kickstarter can get what they’re unable to get from” traditional sources.

Brian Wise covers the classical music business for WQXR, including aspects of performance, technology, philanthropy and institutional trends. He manages the station’s homepage and makes sure what you hear on air is what you see online. Follow him on Twitter at  @Briancwise.

Your Advocacy Makes a Difference

Arts Education & Access Fund

Last November, Portland voters overwhelmingly supported the establishment of the Arts Education & Access Fund to restore arts teachers to every Portland elementary school and increase access to the arts citywide. Please join us in advocating that Portland City Council act quickly and thoughtfully to shore up and secure Portland’s new Arts Tax. We want to ensure that it is successfully and efficiently collected and distributed to the classrooms and communities that it was designed to reach. E-mail Portland City Council today and share your perspective on the importance of honoring the will of the voters and investing our tax dollars in arts education and access:

Mayor Charlie Hales         Commissioner Nick Fish         Commissioner Amanda Fritz         Commissioner Steve Novick         Commissioner Dan Saltzman

Arts for All Fullfills its Promise

On May 8, 2013, at this year’s State of the Arts Report to Portland City Council, a Portland resident, Philip Liu, testified to the importance of making the arts available to everyone, regardless of age or income. Here is Philip’s story and our tribute to Portland’s groundbreaking Arts for All program.

Philip Lui“The first time that we used Arts for All, my son and I went to the ballet to watch Stravinsky’s Rites of Spring. He was four years old. After the show I asked him if he liked it, and – his words – he said, “That was beautiful!” He asked if he could watch it again tomorrow. And we actually went, but it was sold out.

But, from then on we went to as many shows as possible. One of our favorites is going to BodyVox performances. It’s kid-friendly, funny, lighthearted, and at times serious and, and generally wonderful. We both think the performers are like super heroes. (My son) goes to kids classes there now. He’s now six and a half years old.

I had a stroke five years ago. I couldn’t speak for the first couple of months and the only word that I could say was “Yes.” Half the time I meant “No.” I had to relearn “Cat” and “Dog.” And then I went on to relearn arithmetic. And then, a year later, paragraphs, and then reading for a few pages, and then trying to talk to people. And in the many performances, like the Oregon Symphony, BodyVox, Northwest Children’s Theatre and so on, I feel like my body – my mind and body – is healing from the stroke. My son received the same results. Mind, body, and heart healing.

I am on a fixed income. Without Arts for All we would not be able to afford it. Thank you Mayor Hales… and thank you Council Members for investing in arts organizations that participate in Arts for All. Thank you.”

Arts For All

How “Arts for All” Came to Be

In January of 2011, twelve of Portland’s classical music organizations, operating under the auspices of Go Classical PDXand convened by All Classical 89.9, announced a pilot project called “Music for All” offering $5.00 tickets to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) card holders. Preliminary numbers for the six-month pilot program totaled 1,410 tickets used. Funding for the program was provided by the Regional Arts and Culture Council, Work for Art and the City of Portland.  Plans immediately began to include additional arts organizations in the next iteration of the program and to expand it beyond classical music. The result, “Arts for All” was launched on October 3, 2011.

Arts Education & Access Fund

Your Advocacy Makes a Difference

Last November, Portland voters overwhelmingly supported the establishment of the Arts Education & Access Fund to restore arts teachers to every Portland elementary school and increase access to the arts citywide. Please join us in advocating that Portland City Council act quickly and thoughtfully to shore up and secure Portland’s new Arts Tax. We want to ensure that it is successfully and efficiently collected and distributed to the classrooms and communities that it was designed to reach. E-mail Portland City Council today and share your perspective on the importance of honoring the will of the voters and investing our tax dollars in arts education and access:

Mayor Charlie Hales         Commissioner Nick Fish         Commissioner Amanda Fritz         Commissioner Steve Novick         Commissioner Dan Saltzman

Reaching Youth on the Edge: Portland’s PlayWrite releases new research on the powerful benefits of arts access

There are dozens of studies that show that access to an arts education has a positive impact on student achievement. But  a groundbreaking new study of the impact of a local community-based arts organization called PlayWrite identifies powerful behavioral changes for high risk youth that go way beyond improved test scores or attendance rates.

Screen Shot 2013-06-25 at 10.10.06 AM

PlayWrite is a ten-year old Portland “theatre company” that works with youth ‘at the edge’ to create and produce moving and evocative original plays. A regular recipient of public funding administered by the  Regional Arts & Culture Council, PlayWrite is an excellent example of a community-based arts organization whose work could be strengthened and supported by the  Arts Education & Access Fund. And this recent study from the University of Oregon and Oregon Health Sciences University beautifully articulates why funding access to the arts through organizations like PlayWrite is so important.

PlayWrite provides creative workshops for under-served youth on an ongoing basis throughout the year. The young participants collaborate with PlayWrite-trained coaches  throughout the process of crafting a play, from character development to directing professional actors. PlayWrite coaches are drawn from the Oregon theater community, and are trained to work one-on-one with each young person. Within the intense structured activities of PlayWrite workshops, these young writers create original art. In the process, they learn to trust, manage, and heal their own emotional experiences; to work collaboratively; and to contribute positively to their communities.

PlayWrite serves a broad population of young people who have not thrived in the mainstream education system, including Native American youth, children of Hispanic farm workers, teenagers in residential care for psychiatric diagnoses and young mothers. In this study of the impact of PlayWrite’s programming, researchers asked teachers to report changes in behavior among students who participated in PlayWrite and a control group of students who were on the waitlist for the program.

What they discovered was that PlayWrite students showed decreased levels of:

• Hyperactivity: being restless and easily distracted

• Emotion symptoms: including anxiety, somatic complaints, depression

• Anger Dysregulation: culturally inappropriate (i.e. disruptive or destructive) emotional expression of anger and irritability (e.g., tantrums)

In addition, follow up with students themselves reavealed that their ability to manage and control impulses improved. These improvements in psychosocial measures lead to better integration into the larger community and enhance leadership qualities.

Screen Shot 2013-06-25 at 10.09.54 AM

As Portland’s schools and communities continue seeking ways to support our youth, particularly those at high risk of drop-out and disengagement, it is more important than ever to increase access to the arts through ground-breaking organizations like PlayWrite.

Arts Education & Access Fund

Your Advocacy Makes a Difference

Last November, Portland voters overwhelmingly supported the establishment of the Arts Education & Access Fund to restore arts teachers to every Portland elementary school and increase access to the arts citywide. Please join us in advocating that Portland City Council act quickly and thoughtfully to shore up and secure Portland’s new Arts Tax. We want to ensure that it is successfully and efficiently collected and distributed to the classrooms and communities that it was designed to reach. E-mail Portland City Council today and share your perspective on the importance of honoring the will of the voters and investing our tax dollars in arts education and access:

Mayor Charlie Hales         Commissioner Nick Fish         Commissioner Amanda Fritz         Commissioner Steve Novick         Commissioner Dan Saltzman

Reaching and Teaching the Whole Child:  Music Education at Portland’s David Douglas School District

Among the hundreds of parents, teachers, artists and arts organization leaders who have advocated tirelessly for the establishment of the Arts Education & Access Fund is David Douglas School District Elementary Music Teacher, Val Ellett. Val’s personal story is a powerful example of how much we can accomplish by making music and the arts part of the core curriculum in our schools – as the David Douglas School District has done. And her words remind us why it is so critical that we  continue advocating to ensure that the Arts Education & Access Fund reaches every classroom and community that it was intended to serve.

Val Ellett

My name is Val Ellett, and I am a general music K-5 teacher in the David Douglas school district. I have been teaching music for 17 years. I am also on the board of the Oregon Music Education Association and a performing member of The Portland Wind Symphony.

David Douglas school district is located in southeast Portland and serves over 10,000 students in grades K through 12. Of these students, nearly 24 percent are English language learners. At last count, our district had about 76 different languages spoken. We also have a very high population of students who receive free or reduced lunch, title one services, and other medical and social services.

David Douglas has always maintained a strong commitment to music education. We’ve created and maintained a district‐wide common music curriculum and assessments, which hold true to the National Association for Music Education’s guidelines that music education is a core subject area not “an extra”.

In my own school, there is a very diverse population of student needs. We have students who are learning the English language and students who function in music classes despite facing challenging issues like as autism, spinal injuries, birth defects, diabetes, attention deficit disorder, depression, blindness, and even homelessness. Yet, every single day I get the joy of seeing these students come into my classroom and all of the world fades away while they get to experience, and learn, and do music. Music is the great equalizer.

Every child in every elementary school in Portland can be engaged in this same way. They can be singing, playing instruments, moving to music, reading and writing music, composing and arranging music (yes, even in kindergarten!), analyzing and critiquing music, and experiencing music from many different cultures and time periods.

As I plan my lessons every day, I insure daily opportunities for students to reinforce language and literacy skills and reinforce basic math skills. My music lessons often help connect the two sides of the brain and provides sensory experiences to help improve both fine and gross motor control. I offer opportunities to increase listening skills, develop historical and cultural background knowledge, and foster cooperation and teamwork.

Two months ago, I had a mom email me, telling me that her son (who was new to our school) was struggling with wanting to go to school. She told me something amazing… on the days that he had music class, he lit up, and jumped out of bed, and was delighted to got to school  that day. For certain, music class helps provide disconnected kids get a connection to school and learning because elementary music teachers are the whole school’s teacher.

Over the years, I figure I’ve taught music to over 10,000  students. If it weren’t for the continued funding to keep music education a part of their core curriculum, that would be ten thousand kids who may never have found their voice through music education.

There are about that same amount of students in Portland who would so greatly benefit from having music taught to them as part of their core curriculum.

We need to teach to the whole child.

We need to think about our future, and we need to catch up with what the rest of the world already knows.

I believe that music and the arts are the most powerful force a community can invest in.

Arts Education & Access FundYour Advocacy Makes a Difference

Last November, Portland voters overwhelmingly supported the establishment of the Arts Education & Access Fund to restore arts teachers to every Portland elementary school and increase access to the arts citywide. Please join us in advocating that Portland City Council act quickly and thoughtfully to shore up and secure Portland’s new Arts Tax. We want to ensure that it is successfully and efficiently collected and distributed to the classrooms and communities that it was designed to reach. E-mail Portland City Council today and share your perspective on the importance of honoring the will of the voters and investing our tax dollars in arts education and access:

Mayor Charlie Hales         Commissioner Nick Fish         Commissioner Amanda Fritz         Commissioner Steve Novick         Commissioner Dan Saltzman

Teach me by Lauren Steele

On June 27, 2012, Portland City Council unanimously voted to refer the Arts Education & Access Fund to the ballot for voter approval. Before the vote to refer, hundreds of citizens gathered outside City Hall and in Council Chambers to urge City Council to restore access to the arts in Portland’s classrooms and communities. Many of the testimonials were awe-inspiring but this spoken word performance by Jefferson High School student Lauren Steele was simply unforgettable. Lauren’s words remind us why Portland voted to enact this groundbreaking new fund. And why it is so critical that we continue advocating to ensure that the Arts Education & Access Fund reaches every classroom and community that it was intended to serve.

Lauren Steele

I bang on these tables and I spit to the beat / Knowing this is the only place art and education meet / This space between my palms and this graffitied up desk / Is where dozens of lost talents have been laid to rest

Books raggedy and torn barely serving any use / The seams of our school system are slowly coming loose / Disturbingly vacant band rooms ringing with music unplayed / Wood rotted dance studios dances unmade

Shake your head at our generation for we will do nothing great / Street corners and welfare offices hold our fate / Minority schools living up to the way you display them / Sports scholarships the only way / But ain’t no money to play them

Headphones hidden under hoodies disguising our creative fix / Lord knows real life and school life ain’t never supposed to mix / Private schools snickering at our illiteracy and test scores / Fueling a fire of insecurity / Trust me I want to know more

Teach me / Understand my troubles try to reach me / Teach me / Take these inaccuracies out my speech please / The right to education is to each, see / Teach me

You can’t leave our education in the hands of a few few folks with degrees / We are all perfectly capable of achieving what this system needs / I’m tired of artless, colorless schools same syllabus every year / Don’t support your future leaders and your future is unclear

Your answers to worldly crises could lie in this city / There are young potential heroes in need of more than just your pity / So Im’a stand up here in hopes of contributing to this fight / Cause maybe with a little help, our generation will get it right

–Lauren Steele

Watch and listen to Lauren read her poem here.

 

Arts Education & Access Fund

Your Advocacy Makes a Difference

Last November, Portland voters overwhelmingly supported the establishment of the Arts Education & Access Fund to restore arts teachers to every Portland elementary school and increase access to the arts citywide. Please join us in advocating that Portland City Council act quickly and thoughtfully to shore up and secure Portland’s new Arts Tax. We want to ensure that it is successfully and efficiently collected and distributed to the classrooms and communities that it was designed to reach. E-mail Portland City Council today and share your perspective on the importance of honoring the will of the voters and investing our tax dollars in arts education and access:

Mayor Charlie Hales         Commissioner Nick Fish         Commissioner Amanda Fritz         Commissioner Steve Novick         Commissioner Dan Saltzman

Preparing Students for the Next America:  The Benefits of An Arts Education

In April, the Creative Advocacy Network participated in the Arts Education Partnership’s (AEP) national forum in Washington, D.C. where we learned from and shared ideas with the nation’s foremost leaders in arts education.  A highlight was Boston Public Schools Superintendent Carol Johnson, who said: “Arts alone can’t transform public schools, but there are no great schools without great arts programs.”

The AEP is dedicated to securing a high-quality arts education for every young person in America and, at the forum, they released a research brief that highlights and summarizes how the arts support achievement in our schools, develop skills for a 21st century workforce, and enrich the lives of our children and our communities.  Below is an abridged version – please see the full report to read more.

Preparing Students for the Next America

The arts prepare students for success in school.

Arts instruction and arts integrated instruction – lessons teaching skills and content of an art and non-art subject in tandem – engage students and increase learning and achievement.  Arts education:

  • Boosts literacy and English Language Arts (ELA) skills. Arts education helps students become better readers and writers.
  • Advances math achievement. Students who study the arts, especially music, outperform their non-arts peers on mathematics assessments.
  • Engages students in school and motivates them to learn.  Arts education helps make learning matter to students by giving them a medium to connect new knowledge to personal experiences and express what they have learned to others.
  • Develops critical thinking. In a world where students must frequently wade through a sea of information to determine which facts are trustworthy and relevant to a particular topic, critical thinking skills are key to college readiness and lifelong learning.
  • Improves school culture. Arts education helps foster a positive culture and climate in schools.

The arts prepare students for success in work.

  • Arts education develops thinking skills and capacities key to success in the 21st Century workforce.  Arts education:
  • Equips students to be creative. Arts education develops creativity, one fo the top five skills employers prize for the 21st Century.
  • Strengthens problem solving ability. The arts develop reasoning skills that prepare students to solve problems.
  • Builds collaboration and communication skills. In the arts, students learn to articulate their intentions, receive and offer constructive criticism, and listen actively to others’ ideas.
  • Increases capacity for leadership. Students who participate in the arts develop leadership skills, including decision-making, strategy building, planning, and reflection.

The arts prepare students for success in life.

  • Arts education prepares students to engage meaningfully in their communities.  Arts education:
  • Strengthen perseverance. Arts education develops students’ capacity to persist in the face of a challenge.
  • Facilitates cross-cultural understanding. Arts experiences foster pro-social behaviors and social tolerance that help prepare students for life in an increasingly global and culturally diverse world.
  • Builds community and supports civic engagement. Arts programs foster a sense of community among participants that support their personal, artistic, civic, and social development.
  • Fosters a creative community. Students who study the arts in their school years are more likely to engage with the arts in later life as consumers, performers, or creators than their peers who receive no arts education.

Stay informed. Connect with Others. Get Involved. Tie it all together.

Arts Education & Access Fund

Your Advocacy Makes a Difference

Last November, Portland voters overwhelmingly supported the establishment of the Arts Education & Access Fund to restore arts teachers to every Portland elementary school and increase access to the arts citywide. Please join us in advocating that Portland City Council act quickly and thoughtfully to shore up and secure Portland’s new Arts Tax. We want to ensure that it is successfully and efficiently collected and distributed to the classrooms and communities that it was designed to reach. E-mail Portland City Council today and share your perspective on the importance of honoring the will of the voters and investing our tax dollars in arts education and access:

Mayor Charlie Hales         Commissioner Nick Fish         Commissioner Amanda Fritz         Commissioner Steve Novick         Commissioner Dan Saltzman