Kerry Washington and Forest Whitaker are adopting some of the nation’s worst-performing schools and pledging Monday to help the Obama administration turn them around by integrating arts education, reports the Huffington Post.
The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities will announce a new Turnaround Arts initiative as a pilot project for eight schools with officials from the White House and U.S. Department of Education. Organizers said they aim to demonstrate new research that shows the arts can help reduce behavioral problems and increase student attendance, engagement and academic success.
The two-year initiative will target eight high-poverty elementary and middle schools. The schools were among the lowest-performing schools in each of their states and had qualified for about $14 million in federal School Improvement Grants from the Obama administration. The arts initiative will bring new training for educators at the Aspen Institute, art supplies and musical instruments totaling about $1 million per year, funded by private foundations and corporate sponsors.
The schools selected for the project are in both urban and rural areas. They are in New Orleans; Denver; Boston; Washington; Des Moines, Iowa; Portland, Ore.; Bridgeport, Conn.; and Lame Deer, Mont.
Washington, who is starring in the new ABC drama “Scandal,” will adopt a District of Columbia school over the next two years. Often there are misconceptions about the role arts play in school, she said, as if they’re only the “sprinkles on the icing,” Washington told The Associated Press.
“It’s not that the arts are something to put on in the final period of the day once all the real work is done,” she said. “Arts are actually how we can help them get the real work done.”
For example, studies show more music training can help improve student math scores, Washington said.
Artists from the president’s committee, including Washington, will present programs to students and teachers, celebrate their successes and help create community partnerships to support their work.
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