Arts for LA Releases School Board Arts & Culture Candidate Surveys

Arts for LA Releases School Board Arts & Culture Candidate Surveys

Fri, 10/11/2013 - 10:03am

Photo: ArtsVoteLAWith an estimated $5.3 billion in educational funding set to invigorate California’s schools due to Proposition 30, school board leaders will be tasked with setting the priorities and direction for their schools’ future.  To help spark dialogue around arts and education issues, Arts for LA has distributed Arts & Culture Candidate Surveys to every eligible candidate for election in 33 school district races throughout Lo

Fall 2013 Arts & Culture Candidate Surveys: Las Virgines Unified School District

Fall 2013 Arts & Culture Candidate Surveys: Las Virgines Unified School District

As part of its work to connect voters and candidates, Arts for LA presents these Arts & Culture Candidate Surveys to promote dialogue around issues related to arts education and its benefits.

Survey responses provided by each candidate are for voter information purposes only. Arts for LA does not endorse candidates seeking office. We are committed to fostering respectful, nonpartisan dialogue about issues relating to arts and culture. For more information, please read about our mission and values or our FAQ.

All eligible candidates were contacted to participate in the survey. If you would like to submit new or revise existing responses, please contact Arts for LA at advocate@artsforla.org or 213-225-7580.

The California Alliance for Arts Education and LA2050 served as Regional Partners by promoting Arts & Culture Candidate Surveys throughout Los Angeles County.

Elections for Las Virgines Unified School District will be held on Tuesday, November 5.

3 seats are available in this election. Elections are at large; voters may vote for any of the eligible candidates in this election.

For more information on where to vote, visit the Los Angeles County Clerk/Registrar-Recorder’s Office website.

If a candidate has not yet responded, please click on the candidate's name below to invite the candidate via email to participate.

Candidate order: Mary Jo Ammon, Angela Cutbill,Dallas B. Lawrence, Ray Pearl, Lesli Stein

Question 1: Tell us about a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music) while growing up?

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As a child of an Air Force officer, my family moved a lot during my childhood. In school there were two good ways to feel a part of something as a new student: sports and performing arts. Never the great athlete, I took a chance in 7th grade and got a role in a school play. That experience made me feel successful, proud and part of a team. Having the opportunity to work closely with fellow students made me feel like I belonged and took away those feelings of being an outsider. I gained some self-confidence through this play that sticks with me today.

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Question 2: What role do you think creativity can play in supporting key priorities of the district, such as reducing the dropout rate, closing the achievement gap, and preparing more students for college eligibility and/or meaningful careers?

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There is no educational approach that is perfect for every child. Part of being a successful student involves a desire to be in class every day, knowing it is a place to belong and thrive. I believe the creative aspects of the arts are a great way to engage the mind in a different way, build self-confidence and self-esteem and give some students a way to belong, learn and thrive. Furthermore, I believe that as we move toward the critical thinking emphasis of Common Core, those creative students who approach art with their own unique perspective can bring that creativity to academic subjects, as well. The skills learned in the arts are, I believe, directly transferable to the work place and certainly make a well-rounded candidate for college.

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Question 3: Your district has embarked on an initiative to restore meaningful sequential arts education into its core curriculum. What do you feel are the strengths and weaknesses of the plan?

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The biggest strength of the plan is the fact that children have arts in the classroom starting in kindergarten and going all the way through 12th grade. Art will become an innate part of our students' education, rather than something foreign and external. Our District also took a big leap forward with the recent addition of a Performing Arts Center to both of our high schools. These student-centered facilities create many more opportunities for our students to participate in the arts either on stage or behind the scenes. The weakness of our plan is that so much of the arts education in our District is funded directly by parents through local PFAs or PFCs, limiting the scope of what we can offer our students.

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Question 4: How can your district make your arts education plan and its progress on the plan more visible to parents and leaders in your community?

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We can continue to prioritize the arts in our classrooms and continue to publicize the work done by our students. As our District has already started, utilizing the Performing Arts Centers as community gathering places to see our students in action will continue to create a positive arts culture throughout the district. We can also involve our local governments and business community, creating a mutually beneficial relationship where their facilities can display our students' work. Ultimately, the focus on the arts will lead to culture change in our District. I believe that change is good for our students today and will help make more well-rounded leaders tomorrow. As the emphasis on the arts radiates from our school, we will see our community embracing our arts culture, which will be biggest proof of the power of an arts education.

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Question 5: In light of the new funding structure for school districts in the state (i.e. the Local Control Funding Formula), how do you see arts education aligning with the eight new priority areas?

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As I've already discussed, I see arts education as a major tool in both Student Engagement and Student Achievement, as well as a catalyst in Common Core integration. I've also stated that arts education can go far beyond enhancing School Climate. Parental Involvement is already a major component of our arts programs, both in providing man-hours of support and in fundraising. This will only increase as we move toward more localized decision making. The added flexibility the LCFF provides will allow for more community-wide goal setting and give the district the power to identify and fund priorities, As the state funding formula changes and as California institutes Common Core Standards, there remains a place for arts education. The arts can lead to a different way of learning that aligns well with the changes ahead for education in California.

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