Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Good Day for Seattle Education

Download photo.JPG (76.4 KB)I just got back from a news conference where it was announced that the City of Seattle will be investing $500,000 in arts education in Seattle Public Schools.  This will advance the already established partnership between the City and SPS called The Creative Advantage.

(That's Mayor McGinn's mom, Joyce, looking at students' artwork.  The boy to her right is McGinn's brother, Kevin.  McGinn is the boy hiding at her left side.)

The goal is one hour of music and one hour of visual arts per week for every single student in SPS by 2020.

The investment dollars came from something of a surprising source - admission tax revenue from the Great Wheel on the waterfront and the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum was higher than expected.  So thank you tourists for those dollars. 

The $500k will be invested over the next two years to start rolling out the planning done under the $1M Wallace Foundation grant.  The Central district will be the first to see some dollars starting next year.  That area was chosen because of already strong partnerships  with community-based arts organizations.   SPS' Carri Campbell said that they would be building out music for every elementary that feeds into Washington Middle School.  She also stated that the resources/materials would be available so that teachers can get right to work without waiting or wondering about those resources. 

According to the press release:
Studies have found that Seattle students do not have consistent access to arts education, and access can be predicted based on ethnicity, ELL status or F/RL status.

When asked about his K-12 arts involvement, the Mayor said that his mother had run a community arts program and he remembers helping her roll out the butcher paper and put out the paints.  He also participated in school chorus in productions of Carmen and South Pacific.

What a great win-win for our city and our schools.

Also today, the Governor signed into law that Washington State high schools can count computer science classes towards either math or science requirements for graduation.    He signed the bill at Rainier Beach High School.  The bill passed, 95-0


Benjamin Leis said...

Does anyone have any specifics on what this will mean at the classroom level? I remember there being a response in an old thread which mentioned something similar to creating new evaluation frameworks. It was hard for me to imagine what that meant in practice.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Ben, I am going to have an extensive thread on the huge amount of arts data collected by SPS to use to craft the framework for arts in SPS.

BUT you will need to ask your principal how it will play out in your own school.

Anonymous said...

This is a good start. Today my daughter and I are going to buy her art teacher glues as he has to buy his own supplies. This makes me sad.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of arts education in the Central region - We received this message yesterday from Washington Middle School music department.

May 14, 2013
Dear Senior Music Families,
We are sending this letter home to address what has become a concern to many. As a “fun activity” that was planned for the upcoming Senior Trip this weekend (May 17, 18, and 19), an “awards ceremony” was devised with varying types of awards that were to be created for serious effect, and for humorous effect.
It is our observation that some of the awards that were created are coming off as offensive to many. Please understand that the intention in the awards ceremony was not to be offensive. In hindsight, it is easy to understand why many are feeling this way right now.
We now clearly understand that some of the awards listed were inappropriate. We now fully understand that there could have been damaging ramifications should the awards have been handed out, and that perhaps some of the process has already caused some damage for some students. For this, the music department heartily apologizes, and will offer the following in order to rectify the situation (to the best of our ability):
1. The awards process will be re-vamped, and highly scrutinized to be only positive in nature.
2. We will hold a class meeting with the students, offering our apologies for any discomfort that has been caused to them in the faulty process. We will also discuss at length why the contents of the awards were potentially damaging and prone to promote the act of bullying, which is something we strive to eradicate in this building.
3. We are sending this letter home, and will be available to answer any questions you may have, or listen to any concerns that you may have regarding this situation.
4. If a student should feel the need to discuss the situation with his/ her counselor, we will gladly send the student to see the counselor during third period.
Thank you for your support and please accept our deepest apologies,
The Music Department Faculty of WMS

I asked my child about this and she said that the band and orchestra teachers made up award categories such as “Most Likely to Be Left Behind” “Most Likely to End Up in a High School Dumpster” and “Least Photogenic.” My child said most of the kids ignored these categories because they were just too rude and mean. Maybe the city should use some of this money to provide these teachers with training on how-to-be-as-mature-as-your-own-students.

WMS Parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

WMS, that is terrible. I sure hope the Board knows this happened. Clearly, something went terribly out of whack.

This reminds me of those lists of "most likely to" that some of the high schools participate in AND put in the yearbook. My son,who has a disability, got named in one category (that was directly related to his disability). He was very hurt that his classmates did that.

The principal? We got a bland "oh sorry."