Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wallace Foundation Grant

Seattle Public Schools won a million dollar competitive grant from the Wallace Foundation for arts education planning. You will recall that the approval of this grant was rushed by the board so the work of planning our arts education program could begin right away. A four-week delay in getting started was regarded as intolerable. The grant was presented for introduction and action at the same board meeting on July 6, 2011. So, nu? It has been nine months of the year gone by now. How is that arts education planning going? Did it get off to a fast start? Was this another case when the staff rushed the Board to vote with a false urgency and then, once they secured the vote, all of the urgency drained away and the work stalled? Or did the District get right to work on the arts education plan and they are making rapid progress?

Does anyone know?

Here's what the District's web site has to say about the grant:
Seattle Public Schools was recently awarded a $1 million grant from New York-based Wallace Foundation to engage the community and develop and multi-year plan for introducing more arts instruction into the classroom. The Foundation's Arts Learning Initiative planning grant, which runs from July 2011 through January 2013, will support development of a comprehensive K-12 arts education plan aimed at increasing quality arts learning opportunities for all students.
And, as we know, the District recently did community engagement meetings about arts education. Also from the District web site:
Beginning March 13th, SPS is partnering with the Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs to host 5 community engagement meetings that will inform the final SPS arts plan. Arts activities for children and interpreters available. Learn more and register!
Here is information about those meetings. The flier clearly states: "The work is made possible with a planning grant from The Wallace Foundation." The web site also shows one person with the job of K-12 SPS Arts Plan Project Manager. So we have one person on staff and five community meetings. Surely a million dollars buys more of a planning effort than that?

2 comments:

Charlie Mas said...

I'll start this discussion with a re-post of a comment from another thread:

This post reminds me that there needs to be a thread about the SPS arts planning process. They got a $1million grant from the Wallace Foundation just to create an arts plan, but I haven’t heard much about what they are doing. I went to one of the community meetings about it and the district person made it clear that she was not going to talk about the process. $1 million is a lot of money and it can’t be spend on direct services or buying much-needed art supplies, instruments, or contracting with teaching artists like Arts Corps provides. Also, creating the plan is not a guarantee that the Wallace Foundation will fund the carrying out of the plan. LA planned for 10 years and then did not get implementation funding. What is SPS’s Plan B, where else will they get funding for the arts – not Seattle Office for Education. I hope that this doesn’t become another initiative that sits on a shelf. In a creative place like Seattle, our children deserve more arts and we deserve more transparency.

mom51

Melissa Westbrook said...

Charlie, I seem to recall some updates at C&I meetings. I do think there IS a lot of planning going on but I don't know how much is out there for the public to know about.