SPS ready to implement district wide arts access plan

Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Jose Banda announced that the district wide arts access plan, enabled by the 2011 Wallace Foundation grant is about to be implemented. He shared the announcement in a letter to parents, staff and the community.

Dear Seattle Public Schools teachers, principals and staff,

I strongly believe it is our obligation to ensure our students have a well-rounded education, including the arts. We know arts education improves student engagement, motivation, academic success and also develops 21st century skills such as creativity and collaboration. We also know Seattle Public Schools is not currently providing equitable arts access to our students. This must – and will – change.

In June 2011, Seattle Public Schools received a tremendous opportunity: a $1 million arts education planning grant from the Wallace Foundation to create a city-wide arts plan. With this funding, we have spent the last 18 months developing a comprehensive plan to meet our goal that each and every student has access to high quality arts education, every year and in every school.

Today I am pleased to report we have completed our comprehensive plan and we are ready to start launching our goal of District-wide arts access. Information about the arts plan developed can be found online at www.seattleschools.org/artsplan.

The Wallace Foundation’s investment enabled us to:

· Conduct in-depth research to find out which Seattle Public School students were participating in the arts and which were not.

· Ask young people, families, teachers, principals and community partners what they wanted from arts education in Seattle Public Schools.

· Transform Seattle’s arts curriculum and student assessments in response to community feedback and to develop 21st century skills such as perseverance, creativity and collaboration – skills we know are critical to students’ life success.

· Develop supports and tools for more impactful partnerships between schools and the many first-rate community arts organizations and teaching artists in Seattle.

· Create a comprehensive plan to ensure all students in all schools have the opportunity to learn through the arts.

We are excited to move forward with implementation, beginning with a pilot in the Central region that will ensure a K-12 arts learning pathway for every student. We will use this pilot to evaluate the effectiveness of the plan strategies and its impact on students, in order to bring the plan to scale in every Seattle school.

As some of you may be aware, Seattle Public Schools submitted a proposal to the Wallace Foundation to support implementation of our plan. We recently learned that Seattle will not be receiving additional grant support. While we’re disappointed that Seattle did not fit the Foundation’s research criteria and needs, we know this plan is right for our community. We remain dedicated to its implementation and are engaged in seeking the support necessary to accomplish the ambitious goals presented in the plan.

I want to thank our arts team at Seattle Public Schools, led by Carri Campbell, Visual and Performing Arts Manager, as well as the ongoing support from the City of Seattle, teachers and families, and arts community members who all contributed to this plan. I also want to thank the Wallace Foundation for the transformational investment that led to our arts plan.

Arts education for each student must be a city-wide effort. I look forward to working with our staff, families, the City of Seattle and community-based organizations to ensure each of our students has equitable access to the arts as part of their basic education.

Sincerely,

José Banda

Superintendent
Seattle Public Schools

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