School District: LAUSD – District 2

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.

I was the child in your school who had trouble fitting in, both socially and academically. When my mother signed me up for drum lessons in the third grade, she gave me a pathway out of my ostracization. Playing the drums gave me a voice; they were loud and allowed me to project beyond my shyness. They built my self-confidence; I may have failed on the athletic field, but playing music was something that I excelled at. Most appropriate to this conversation, music is what kept my interest in school. No matter what the struggle, band class was a welcome respite during the school day. It is because of my personal experience that I know that classes in the arts must be fully funded if we are to achieve the goal of 100% graduation.

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?

While our iPhones may be manufactured in China, they are Designed by Apple in California. To maintain our competitive advantage in the world, we need to encourage development of our students’ creativity through arts education.

“Research has found that learning music facilitates learning other subjects and enhances skills that children inevitably use in other areas,” For example, music education is “related to a variety of positive outcomes, including student achievement in math.” Another study found “that children who receive musical training will develop aural skills for spoken sounds and spoken words faster than children who did not receive musical instruction.” I have seen how my daughter, who is on the autism spectrum and has limited verbal communication abilities is able to convey her feelings by singing songs or acting out scenes from her favorite movies that are appropriate to the situation. Classes in choir and the dramatic arts have also allowed her to participate with her typical peers in examples of true inclusion.

Too often the LAUSD forgets that all students are not college bound and have dreams that involve the arts and vocational skills. Prioritizing academics to the exclusion of these other subjects leaves them feeling that the education system does not apply to them and makes them vulnerable to dropping out.

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)?

If we want 100% of our students to graduate, then we have to provide an education that can appeal to each and every one of them, including those who are artistically inclined. Yet, far too often these classes are the first to be cut. The excuse given is usually that the budget cannot support these classes, but does not seem logical. After all, the number of hours spent in school, and the related cost, is the same whether or not the child takes a music class. I, therefore, believe that the problem is more likely a question of priorities as it seems that the decline of arts education has been concurrent with the elevation of standardized testing as a measure of a school’s success. Creativity is not going to help a student fill out bubbles on a test, so the arts are pushed aside in favor of test prep and rote learning. This may not be in the best interests of the child, but at least the principal can brag about test scores as he competes to fill seats for the following year. As a Board member I will push to eliminate the reliance on test scores and prioritize policies that recognize the importance of arts education.

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?

Access to arts education will help schools meet several of the priorities established under the LCAP and should be included as funds are appropriated under the Local Control Funding Formulas. For example, performances and exhibitions provide opportunities for PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT. Also, since music education assists in language acquisition abilities, access to these classes can improve PUPIL ACHIEVEMENT, including English proficiency and the English learner reclassification rate. These classes also provide an opportunity for students who are artistically inclined, which is necessary to increase PUPIL ENGAGEMENT by increasing attendance rates and decreasing dropout rates. In the same way that a successful sports team can increase school spirit, the emergence of artistic talent can also increase school connectedness and improve the SCHOOL CLIMATE. Arts classes are also necessary to meet the requirement that PUPILS HAVE ACCESS TO, AND ARE ENROLLED IN, A BROAD COURSE OF STUDY.