School District: LAUSD – District 4
Position Seeking: Board Member
Question 1: Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts) while growing up and its impact on you.
The arts saved my life as an at-risk teenager. Our theater teacher Mike Mucci literally found me and forced me into my first play when I was 16. They play was called The Hasty Heart and we took it all the way to the Massachusetts State Drama finals. The truth is that I wasn't a very good actor. But in the moment of taking on the voice of another I was able to find my own voice. I was in every high school play from that moment forward. Theater gave me a reason to be sober and a reason to come to school. In fact, it was the first time I had known success at school. My story is not unique but in this moment the stakes are so much higher for students in LAUSD and there are so many Mike Mucci's out there who change life trajectories through arts education.
Question 2: How can arts education support student outcomes such as English language development, reducing the achievement gap, and preparing youth for college and/or meaningful careers?
I believe that arts education is the critical level for so many students to access the common core, perfect their multilingualism and prepare to be fully ready for college and career. Holistic arts education from early elementary school (or before) allows students to access their creative energies and can unleash success in ways that static forms of learning cannot. Research around Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligences and learning modalities teaches us that musical, visual and rhythmic intelligences are real and need to be fostered in ever more creative ways in the classroom. It is no accident that schools that have comprehensive arts education programs have higher student outcomes in every measurable area. This is why LAUSD established arts education as a core academic subject area. We need to ensure that arts as an "extra curricular or elective" is part of our history and not part of our present. Finally, we need to understand that Los Angeles is the entertainment capitol of the world and that the industry could be a better job engine for our students if we invested the right ways. For LAUSD this means investing in and expanding our linked learning partnerships with all aspects of the entertainment industry. Linked learning establishes partnerships, internships, and job training programs related to our arts education programs.
Question 3: What do you think the role of the School Board should be in ensuring that students have continued access to a broad range of study subjects, including the arts (broadly defined)?
The LAUSD School Board must continue its leadership role in ensuring that Arts Education is a right for all students not a privilege for the affluent or the lucky. establishing arts education as a core academic area, fully fund comprehensive arts education and ensure that this funding remains on an arts equity index so that students living in the worst conditions of poverty are prioritized to the first available resources. We also need to continue strategic investments in arts instructional pipelines to make sure that an instrumental, dance or visual arts trajectory that is started in elementary school continues through middle and high school. The Board needs to ensure that credentialed arts education teachers are at the heart of instruction and investment, but that there is a vibrant arts partnership with organizations throughout Los Angeles County and that these relationships can be fostered through the district itself eliminating red tape and facilitating relationships between teachers and organizations.
Question 4: Do you see a role for arts education in the development of district Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAPs)? If so, how would you hope to use arts education to advance the eight priority areas identified in the LCAP template?
I absolutely see a role for Arts Education in the LCAP development process. LAUSD already references the Arts Equity Index in the LCFF and the LCAP roll out and families are made aware of investments in the Arts as part of the districts overall commitment to equity. Arts Education investments are also critical to the LCAP priorities as they allow for increased access to literacy and English language development as well as fostering socio-emotional well being and alternatives to punitive discipline. Because we are making Arts Equity investments along the lines of the Equity Index, this template mirrors the overall equity index we are developing for schools to distribute supplemental and concentration grant funding. As we continue to decentralize the budgeting process and empower school communities it is my hope that investments in arts education will be viewed as a lever for transforming education outcomes