Putting Arts Back in the Classroom

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Seattle Public Schools has joined forces with the Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs and community arts organizations to create a plan that will increase access to arts education for all K-12 students in Seattle. This effort is made possible by a $1 million grant provided by the Wallace Foundation to Seattle Public Schools for introducing more arts instruction into the classroom.

You can help shape their plan by attending one of their three remaining public meetings. Tonight’s, Monday, March 19th, will be from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the South Shore K-8 School, 4800 South Henderson Street. They’ll provide translators for Spanish, Somali, Chinese, Vietnamese and Tagalog.

If you miss tonight’s meeting, try Thursday’s, March 29, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Chief Sealth International High School, 2600 Southwest Thistle Street. They’ll provide translators for Spanish, Somali and Vietnamese.

Your last opportunity will be their youth meeting on Saturday, March 31st, from 1 to 3 p.m. in the Meany Building, where Nova High School/Seattle World School reside, 301 21st Avenue East. The meeting will be led by young people engaging middle and high school participants.

Space is limited. RSVP is required. RSVP by visiting www.arts-ed.eventbright.com. For more information, contact Tamara Gill at 206-733-9591.

The Wallace grant was in part awarded to Seattle Public Schools in recognition of progress made by Seattle’s Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs’ (OACA) and Seattle Public Schools’ Seattle Arts Education Partnership — a multiyear collaboration between OACA, the Seattle Arts Commission and Seattle Public Schools — to put the arts back in the classroom for all students.

I’ve wanted to put arts back in the classroom, too. Back in 2006, I proposed the state-wide Public School Arts Program. Twenty-four legislators co-sponsored the resulting bills (HB 2192 & SB 6065) that called for redirecting lottery revenues then going toward Safeco Field construction bonds that were projected to be paid off by this year. After two years, neither bill reached the Senate or House floor for a vote.

The Program would have partnered schools with artists and arts organizations to fund individual programs and projects at schools throughout the state. The goal was to deliver arts-infused curriculum that were interdisciplinary and that exposed students to other cultures, thereby strengthening our communities. The State Treasurer indicated then that redirecting this lottery revenue starting in 2012 would yield approximately $5.5 million each year and over ten years could have climbed to $8 million annually.

Why did I fight for these bills? Because according to Americans for the Arts and the Stanford University and Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, young people who consistently participate in comprehensive, sequential and rigorous arts programs are 4 times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, 3 times more likely to be elected to class office within their schools, 4 times more likely to participate in a math and science fair and 3 times more likely to win an award for school attendance.

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