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Looking For Balance In San Francisco Schools

Looking For Balance In San Francisco Schools

Looking For Balance In San Francisco Schools

Educators in the San Francisco Public Schools are frustrated by the lack of balance in education. The recent focus on mandatory testing has moved schools nationwide away from holistic education. And this can have serious consequences on children in the San Francisco Schools.

Richard Florida in The Flight of the Creative Class says, “What we really need in order to prepare our children for the creative economy is a comprehensive education. Something that takes them from aesthetics to algebra without pretending that the two are mutually exclusive.” Aha!

Elliot W. Eisner, professor of education and art, Stanford University agrees. He states that “The arts are fundamental resources through which the world is viewed, meaning is created, and the mind developed.” Arts education has a profound effect on students, there’s no doubt about it. San Francisco Schools are finally acknowledging this, and are acting on it

In March 2004, voters, in unprecedented numbers, passed Proposition H. This proposition earmarked tens of millions of city funds for schools, including new funds for arts education. This had added further community and political support to the cause of arts education equity and access for all San Francisco Schools students.

A San Francisco Schools Steering Committee was then formed to begin work on the master plan. The steering committee, as well as others, is composed of district administrators, teachers, parents, principals, funders, city agency representatives and arts providers. They met on a regular basis until August 2005 under the direction of a project manager. The Steering Committee continues to provide guidance during the initial implementation phase of the plan and will gradually become an advisory body for the San Francisco Schools plan.

The San Francisco Schools have made an important step forward by acknowledging the role arts play in academic education. The arts engage students and honor the many different learning styles students possess. The arts are essential to understanding one’s self, the community, and global culture. Through arts, students in the San Francisco Schools can acquire the skills and creativity needed to succeed later in life. San Francisco Schools leaders know that the arts encourage commitment and persistence, and they have discovered that an involvement in the arts leads to increased attendance and helps many students stay in school, all the way through 12th grade.

One San Francisco Schools elementary principal agreed, “Art gives kids something they can do well. . . .For some, this is where they start.” We need to see more initiatives like this all over the country. As the San Francisco Schools are finally starting to recognize, there is a connection between art and academic education that can go a long way towards improving the state of education in this country.

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