Shalom Life | April 23, 2014

Sarah Jessica Parker Joins Initiative to Teach Kids Arts

Parker joins other celebrities in helping to turn around the nations worst-performing schools

By: Ashley Baylen

Published: April 24th, 2012 in Culture » Society » News

Sarah Jessica Parker Joins Initiative to Teach Kids Arts

The President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities has unveiled a new ‘Turnaround Arts’ initiative as a pilot project for eight of the United States’ worst-performing schools. With officials from the White House and U.S Department of Educations, the Obama administrations plans to turn around the selected schools by integrating arts education.

Sarah Jessica Parker, Kerry Washington, and Forest Whitaker are a few of the celebrities involved in the initiative. The Sex and the City actress will adopt a school in Portland.

The eight schools selected are high-poverty elementary and middle schools. They were among the lowest-performing schools in each of their states and have qualified for about $14 million in federal ‘School Improvement Grants’ under the Obama administration.

‘Turnaround Arts’ is a two-year initiative with the goal to demonstrate how arts education can help reduce behavioral problems and increase attendance, interest, and academic success.

The celebrities involved in the program will present arts-based programs to the students and teachers, celebrate their successes, and help implement community partnerships and fundraise within their appointed city.

"It's really hard to find anybody who says arts education is bad for kids," said Rachel Goslins, Executive Director of the Presidential Arts Committee.

"But there is a huge amount of skepticism that the arts could be an important part of the solution in these schools."

Recent research demonstrates that arts education can greatly improve graduation rates and overall ‘school spirit’. Unfortunately, the high-poverty schools are 50 percent less likely to offer any arts or music programs or classes.

The programs implemented will not only allow children to participate in arts classes and programs within their own school, but will permit the students to go to art galleries, museums, and other cultural institutions that, up until this point, they have never visited.

Actress Kerry Washington grew up in the Bronx at the heights of the crack epidemic. She explains how important the arts were in her childhood.

“I literally remember walking to dance class, walking those two blocks from my house and seeing crack vials on the street,” Washington began.

“I just think, if I wasn’t walking to dance class, where would I have been walking? I just don’t know.”

“I come from a great family, but it’s easy to fall through the cracks without those resources around you, without those extra things that get you excited about learning,” Washington continued.

Arts education not only teaches children a variety of skills, but also encourages accountability, confidence, ability to ‘think outside the box’, creativity, and how to collaborate with others.

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