Monday, April 23, 2012

White House Committee Selects DM Findley Elementary School for Prestigious Arts Initiative

Academy Award-winning actor Forest Whitaker to work in school as part of new program

Turnaround Arts will work in eight elementary and middle “turnaround schools” across the countrypublic schools in the lowest-achieving five percent of their state that are receiving School Improvement Grants through the U.S. Department of Education. An external evaluation will measure the impact and effectiveness of using rigorous and integrated arts education together with other educational reform efforts in high-poverty, low-performing schools.
“We are so proud of Findley for being selected for this program, adding arts to the recipe of success for our students,” said Governor Branstad. “The PCAH initiative will be an invaluable resource for Principal Owen and the good work she and her team are doing at their school.”

As part of the program, the President’s Committee and its partners will provide training and resources to Findley and the other participating schools, including an Aspen Institute summer leadership program, in-school professional development, partnerships with community arts education and cultural organizations, art supplies and musical instruments and community engagement events. Presidentially-appointed artists on the Committee, Chuck Close, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kerry Washington, Forest Whitaker, Yo-Yo Ma, Damian Woetzel and Alfre Woodard, will “adopt” one of the selected schools for the length of the program, working with the schools and communities and highlighting their successes. 

Three studies released this month by the Council on Foreign Relations, the Department of Education and theNational Endowment for the Arts emphasized the importance of access to arts education, citing better grades, increased creativity, higher rates of college enrollment and graduation as well as higher aspirations and civic engagement. Research shows that when students participate in the arts they are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, have higher GPAs and SAT scores and show significantly higher levels of mathematics proficiency by grade 12. They are also more likely to be engaged and cooperative with teachers and peers and are more self-confident and better able to express their ideas. These benefits are particularly pronounced in high-poverty, low-performing schools.


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