Spring 2015 Arts & Culture Candidate Surveys: Burbank Unified School District

Spring 2015 Arts & Culture Candidate Surveys: Burbank Unified School District

Candidate order: Armond Aghakhanian, Steve Ferguson, Vahe Hovanessian, Roberta Reynolds, Greg Sousa, Jesse Tangkhpanya

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 Cristina Pacheco at advocate@artsforla.org or 213-225-7580.

Arts for LA thanks the Burbank Arts for All Foundation for supporting the process as a local partner. The Actors Fund, KCET/Artbound, the California Alliance for Arts Education, LA Stage Alliance, Latino Arts Network, Otis College of Art and Design, LA2050, and the Social & Public Art Resource Center (SPARC) served as Regional Partners by promoting Arts & Culture Candidate Surveys throughout Los Angeles County.

Voting for Burbank Unified School District will be held on Tuesday, February 24.

Elections are at-large, with three seats available in this election.

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

Question 1: Tell us about a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music) while growing up? (Approximately 75-100 words)

I come from a family of artists. Growing up, I was fortunate enough to be around arts & music all the time. My mother, a former teacher and a theater actress, made sure that I attended theater plays from a young age. As a result, this sparked my interest in theater. I have been acting in theater plays since my first play of the "Red Riding Hood". My last play was staged at Barnsdall Art Park. Our home was and continues to be filled with music, ranging from classical to jazz. I played classical piano from young age with my older sister who went on to become a much better player. In middle school, I became a member of the Melkonian School\'s choir, under the direction of the great Maestro Sebouh Apkarian. Later, I developed an interest in the actual history of music and musical instruments. More specifically, I learned about ancient flutes and bagpipes. This led me in to "Duduk", an instrument I play today. Duduk is a traditional woodwind instrument indigenous to Armenia. Variations of it are popular in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia. It is a distant relative of East Asian instruments, such as the Chinese guanzi, the Korean piri and the Japanese hichiriki.

Art played a significant role in my development growing up. In kindergarten I learned that I loved to sketch and took classes up until I attended middle school. When my parents divorced, I was able to see a therapist that used art therapy to help me understand and articulate what I was experiencing. In middle school, I joined the string orchestra and learned to play the viola which had a surprising impact on my performance in math. Lastly, in high school I took up photography and grew to appreciate the ability to capture images of the world from my own perspective. Upon reflection now, as an adult, I find all these experiences were equally meaningful and have done nothing but enhanced my appreciation for the arts.

While growing up, I was fortunate to have the opportunities to learn and play the violin and accordion. I remember taking years of accordion lessons and playing new music almost every day after school to my grandmother who would endure my ongoing practice with praise. Now, my household normally wakes up to dance music and very frequently we dance in the mornings together before we each head off to school or work. My wife and I have focused on educating our kids about visual arts, dance, drama and music through various mediums.

I must confess that I do not recall meaningful experiences with the arts as a child with respect to participation. I was always scientifically and mathematically inclined; not artistically inclined. However, I was always an avid member of the AUDIENCE for artistic endeavors of my friends. Audience appreciation is important as well. When I became the Council PTA president in 2005, I was completely captured and convinced by new Unit president Karen Broderick to support every PTA unit in doing SOMETHING for the Arts Day in October. I responded by focusing Burbank Council PTA’s unit participation in the arts as a theme for my presidency. I established an Arts for All position on the Council and encouraged the identification of a parent Arts Coordinator at every school. This continues to be my passion.

As a child growing up in the 70’s I enjoyed many opportunities for artistic expression. Our elementary schools provided the means for kids to express themselves through arts, crafts, and music. There was a piano in every classroom, and every teacher knew how to play. In junior high and high school, an entire period of instruction was devoted to art, theater, or music. I especially enjoyed performing in the theater, and going on field trips to the various play festivals and held throughout southern California.

I was a very shy boy growing up and it didn't help that I was born with no fingers on my left hand. Because of that I felt "different", and I was always afraid of other kids making fun of me so I hid my hand in my pocket often. When I was in Preschool, my teacher noticed that I was embarrassed so she had us create a giant mural with the outside frame being our painted hand stamps. I remember all the kids dipping their hands in paint and "stamping" the wall with their hands. I pretended I was sick because I didn't want to do it in front of the other kids. So while the kids were out playing she had me do it alone. When everyone came back in, my teacher said to all of us "woah, who's cool art is that! WOW that person must be really special!" All the kids thought whoever it was, was a "way cool kid", or a "ghost kid" so I raised my hand and said it was me. That moment really meant a lot for me and I believe that art can have a connection with all children.

This candidate has not yet responded.

This candidate has not yet responded.

This candidate has not yet responded.

This candidate has not yet responded.

This candidate has not yet responded.

This candidate has not yet responded.

This candidate has not yet responded.

Question 2: What role do you think creativity can play in supporting key priorities of the district, such as reducing the drop out rate, closing the achievement gap, and preparing more students for college eligibility and/or meaningful careers? (Approximately 75-100 words)

Studies have shown that students who participate in arts education have higher academic achievement scores than students who do not participate (Babo, 2001; Cardarelli, 2003; Cox, 2001; Frakes, 1984; etc.). Furthermore, current research has shown that arts education can play a critical role not only in a child’s academic development but also social development. Exposure to the arts, builds intent, focus, Imagination, engagement, drive, communications, and leadership skills necessary for twenty-first century workforce success.

From both a student development perspective and an administrative perspective, creativity is an integral part of supporting district priorities. I believe we need to do more to not only ensure creativity in the lesson plans of our teachers but in our programmatic offerings as well. Developmentally, we know that greater access to diverse educational experiences reduces the dropout rate and increases the performance of students because students are able to study and grow skills in areas which interest them. Lesson plans which are creative inspire class participation and lesson retention. Diverse course offerings as well as professional development for our teachers can do wonders to inspire students with creativity. Administratively, we are going to need to be as creative as possible if we are going to deliver the kind of education our students deserve. This means that members of the board of education must be willing to reach out to our community like never before to secure the resources necessary to offer new programming and to build toward a more comprehensive educational experience for future students.

I think creativity can play a crucial role in helping children succeed. I support arts education in our schools because I think it would result in more engaged students. The more engagement our children have, the more likely they will attend school and grow into prepared students. Creativity can be very useful in arts and media related careers, industries and technologies. It is important for the district to provide a broad base of various opportunities for all kids to be inspired.

The research abounds in demonstrating that the experience of education and teaching strategies grounded in the arts support student achievement and college readiness through engaging students in the curriculum and in providing alternative pathways to learning. I do not see this as a possibility; I see this as a fact. The district simply must support the arts as part of the core curriculum as it has for the last ten years.

Instruction in the creative arts may provide some students with a career pathway, but for most, it represents a chance to work with their hands, or to find their voice, or to find themselves. This leads to more social connections within the campus community, which in turn makes students more enthusiastic about being at school. Thus, attendance improves, as do graduation rates.

I'd like to expand the after school programs we have to include Art programs and Math/Science tutoring programs in addition to the traditional athletics we have after school. Studies show that strong after school programs directly correlate to the reduction in youth crime. In addition to traditional vocational opportunities in the business, finance and technology sector, we also have an exciting opportunity to partner with local talent and media/dance studios right here in Burbank for internship credit and portfolio building.

This candidate has not yet responded.

This candidate has not yet responded.

This candidate has not yet responded.

This candidate has not yet responded.

This candidate has not yet responded.

This candidate has not yet responded.

This candidate has not yet responded.

Question 3: Los Angeles USD district has embarked on an initiative to restore meaningful sequential arts education into its core curriculum. What do you feel are the strengths and the weaknesses of the plan? (Approximately 75-100 words)

We must make sure that all of our students have access to variety of arts programs. The weakness lies with funding. As a community, we must make certain that funding arts program at our schools are one of our priorities, but that requires the participation and unity of the whole community (parents, teachers, businesses, and all residents of Burbank).

I am a strong proponent of the district's Arts for All Plan. When it comes to district plans the arts plan is by far the most well articulated and thought out. I don't find weaknesses in the plan but I do believe that it is critical to have arts champions on the board who will ensure the plan is funded.

I understand and appreciate the Arts for All Plan 2012-2022. There is much strength to the plan including the various focus areas. For example, the first focus area seeks to fully develop arts curriculum and instruction in dance, music, theatre, visual and media arts with a success indicator. Moreover, the entire plan includes many goals, implementation tasks, timeline and persons responsible. Possible weaknesses include the district's funding capabilities and limitations that may affect the implementation timeline. Moreover, presumptions include elementary schools capabilities that may or may not be immediately present for certain implementations.

The Burbank Board of Education adopted the strategic K-12 arts plan to integrate standards based arts curriculum into the core curriculum in December 2005. This was two years before I was elected to the Board. During that time, I was serving as Burbank Council PTA President. At that time, I advocated for strong parent participation on the Arts for All Committee. Karen Broderick and Alexandra Helfrich moved in to serve as parent representatives. Since that time, parent representation has increased substantially. Under the guidance of our District Arts Coordiator, the Committee developed a strong plan that I do not see has ANY material weaknesses. The plan has undergone the first five year revision and continues to guide the district implementation. My goal as a board member is to continue to support the plan through the Local Control Accountability Plan.

As approved, the plan calls for a fully developed arts curriculum, the expansion of the school day, and the hiring of additional teachers. The plan represents an excellent start, but we will realize these goals only if the board makes them a priority. Thus, one weakness of the plan is its vulnerability to budget shortfalls, competing priorities, or simply a lack of political will.

The greatest strength is the timing in which this initiative is being pushed. The LCFF changed the method in which stakeholder input is weighted, so the Arts for All program is as meaningful as ever, at this critical point in education funding. Most of the weaknesses are from forces outside our control. For instance, it's not fair that a strong Arts foundation is only good if your entering college or vocational program deemed "artistic" in nature. In my opinion, a strong arts background should also be a factor in "non-artistic" college degree programs and vocational programs as well. That being said, there may be push back from outside forces that rely heavily on traditional testing models to determine "student achievement".

This candidate has not yet responded.

This candidate has not yet responded.

This candidate has not yet responded.

This candidate has not yet responded.

This candidate has not yet responded.

This candidate has not yet responded.

This candidate has not yet responded.

Question 4: How can your district make the Los Angeles USD arts education plan, and its progress on the plan, more visible to parents and leaders in your community? (Approximately 75-100 words)

I have over fifteen years of experience in the field of education & public service, serving on several local non-profit boards, commissions, and teaching. Currently, I serve as a member of Burbank School Facilities Oversight Committee & Burbank Parks, Recreation & Community Services Board. I am a former member of Burbank’s Community Development Goals & Civic Pride Committee. As a member of the Burbank School Board, I will create a district-wide Arts advisory committee. The committee will consist of students, parents, teachers, artists, businesses and anyone interested in expanding arts in our schools. Furthermore, as a school board member I will organize: • Annual district wide Arts summits • Partnerships with local businesses to showcase our students’ artwork • Art galleries where part of the proceeds will go toward district art programs and more... As an artist, I will continue my advocacy for more art programs and arts education because it is essential to our children\'s growth, academic achievement, self-development, and well-being.

I believe the district's website should have an entire section called "Accountability" This should list all of the district's current master plans, a copy of the district's audits and financial statements, as well as a list of bond projects and their current status. Providing this information to the public would allow for greater scrutiny of board actions.

The district can make the Burbank USD arts education plan and its progress more visible to parents and the community through optimization of technology to communicate arts messages, develop high visibility events to promote and support, use community venues for displays, encourage cooperative communication between all schools, and communicate progress through quarterly reporting of progress to the BUSD School Board and City of Burbank. In addition, the district can conduct town-hall meetings at various schools to update and educate the public regarding progress on not only the arts education plan, but also the implementation of Common Core.

While opportunities for improvement in any endeavor always exist, our district has done an excellent job in supporting the work of the Burbank Arts for All Foundation and the Community Outreach Working Group to educate our community. Participation of Board Members and District staff is vital in this effort. Publicity efforts include monthly community meetings featuring arts programs within the district and Creative Circles Forums highlighting the work of our partnerships. These events have reached standing room only attendance, including City and Business leaders, as well as parents and community members. Visibility of the plan and progress is achievable through the ongoing efforts to highlight student artistic endeavors in our community newspaper, media news website and through presentations at community group meetings, televised board meetings and city council meetings.

Progress is made visible to parents through recitals, exhibits, and feedback from the students. In addition, the District should reach out to parents and community leaders directly; the Board can maintain public awareness and expectations by insisting on regular progress reports from the Superintendent.

It can be brought forward to the LCAP, which can be streamlined into regular, quarterly town halls and E-Townhalls. Stakeholders now have real input into the process at the LCAP phase.

This candidate has not yet responded.

This candidate has not yet responded.

This candidate has not yet responded.

This candidate has not yet responded.

This candidate has not yet responded.

This candidate has not yet responded.

This candidate has not yet responded.

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? (Approximately 75-100)

Student & Parent Engagement: Students with access to arts education have higher attendance rated and lower drop out rates. The arts also engage the parents and families of students who are involved in performances and exhibitions. Student Achievement & Pupil Outcomes: Students of all backgrounds and cultures are more likely to achieve higher GPA and test scores, graduate from high school and attend college when they have access to the arts. The arts also develop valuable skills like creativity, problem-solving and critical thinking that can help our students to succeed in today’s job market. In a recent study by IBM, CEOs ranked creativity as the most important leadership quality they were looking for in workers. Common Core Standards: Professional development for arts teachers to align with Common Core is being rolled out right now across the state. The arts can assist teachers in working smarter instead of making it harder to transition to Common Core.

I believe that arts education can contribute in one way, shape or forum to six of the state-identified priority areas: Student Achievement, School Climate, Student Engagement, Implementation of Common Core Standards, Parental Involvement and Other Student Outcomes. The arts can transform school site communities, encourage students to get active in their lessons, convey common core standards more clearly than a textbook and we've seen the involvement of parents soar through the Burbank Arts for All Foundation. It's clear to me that the Local Control Funding Formula allows us the opportunity to innovate with arts education and I plan to be a champion of that cause on the Board of Education.

I see the Local Control Funding Formula promoting arts education in multiple funding categories including implementation of visual and performing arts standards, improvement of student achievement, increase of student engagement, improvement of school climate and connectedness, and provision of access to all students to prepare for college and careers, and measure of outcomes including arts education. Overall, the new funding structure will greatly enhance and promote arts education.

Arts Education aligns with all eight of the priority areas in the Local Control Funding Formula. As a Board Member, I have been committed to the establishment of the District Goal of increasing access to arts and music education K-12. The 2014-2017 Local Control Accountability Plan specifically includes the following priorities: Implementation of the Common Core Standards (through professional development on incorporating the arts into Common Core State standards), Basic Services (through providing additional funding to school site budgets for instrument repair/replacement and arts supplies), and Student Engagement/ Student Achievement/ Course Access (through hiring additional music teachers.) Continuous priorities are school climate (through a multitude of performing arts opportunities) and parental engagement (through parent participation in advisory committees)

Arts education aligns with several of the LCAP priorities, including: o Priority 5 - Pupil Engagement: as discussed in my response to Question 2, arts education builds the student’s connection to the campus community, leading to increased attendance and lower dropout rates. o Priority 6 – School Climate: as previously discussed, arts education creates an emotionally secure place for students, which leads to a positive school climate. o Priority 3 –Parent Involvement: as the student’s connectedness to the school grows, so does the parent’s. o Priority 7 – Course Access: the LCAP incorporates the language of the Education Code, which provides for instruction in the visual and performing arts, "including dance, music, theater, and visual arts, with emphasis upon development of aesthetic appreciation and the skills of creative expression."

Technically, an argument can be made for any of the eight areas. However, the ones that would be easiest to argue would be: Pupil Achievement and Engagement - Studies show that students with creative and emotional intelligence can do just as well as those who work exclusively in math and science. Student engagement can be an argument for the outreach portion of the Arts for all plan. Key Phrase: "Well rounded" School Climate - Arts programs allow students to break out of their shells and achieve new levels of creativity. I can make an argument that more students engaged in the arts will add to the school climate. Parental Involvement - As long as parent allies of the Arts for all Program are sitting on the LCAP, Parents and the arts will always have a seat at the table Pupil Outcomes - A strong argument can be made that students who have well rounded achievements will have greater student outcomes than those focused exclusively on one area

This candidate has not yet responded.

This candidate has not yet responded.

This candidate has not yet responded.

This candidate has not yet responded.

This candidate has not yet responded.

This candidate has not yet responded.

This candidate has not yet responded.

Burbank USD & Burbank Arts for All Foundation Kick Off New School Year

Burbank USD & Burbank Arts for All Foundation Kick Off New School Year

Thu, 09/05/2013 (All day)

Photo: Burbank folks with a big checkOn Wednesday, Burbank Arts for All Foundation brought together members of their community, including parents, teachers, district administrators, and arts supporters, to celebrate their legacy of success and their plans for the future of arts education in the district.