Act Now to Save Funding for Schools!

December 16, 2009

If the Ohio Senate does not pass House Bill 318 by the end of the year, Ohio‘s public schools could lose $851 million in state funding. A cut of that magnitude would jeopardize an additional $1.5 billion in federal stimulus money and could create a $2.3 billion budget reduction for education over the next two years.   Please contact your State Senator and tell them to support House Bill 318.

Here is a sample letter you could send to your state senators:
I’m writing to ask you to support the House-passed version of House Bill 318.  Freezing income tax rates at 2008 levels is the best option for fixing the budget shortfall.

At stake is a total of $2.3 billion in state and federal aid for our schools.  This equates to roughly a 10-15 percent reduction to each school district in current funding.  This will force our district to reduce learning opportunities for students and lead to further elimination of education employees.

I urge quick passage of the House-passed version of House Bill 318, so that Ohio can continue to improve educational opportunities for our children and maintain critical support for primary and secondary education.

— Matt Slain, Community Engagement Coordinator, Young Audiences


A Whole New School District…

December 11, 2009

The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind… artists, inventors, designers, storytellers, caregivers, consolers, big picture thinkers. Daniel Pink, A Whole New Mind

Last week, I attended a meeting of the Committee for Arts and Innovative Thinking at the Ohio Department of Education.  One of the presenters used this quote from Mr. Pink and it has remained with me since.  Many have already read A Whole New Mind (if not, I suggest that you do.  It has been around for a couple years and well worth the quick read.).

So why does this quote resonate so much now?  Perhaps it is anticipation of the Transformation Plan that the Cleveland Metropolitan School District will be unveiling in the next month.  I hope the administration there has read this book.  It is the kind of thinking that needs to take place to make a difference for Cleveland’s children.  They are the future of our community and we should be preparing them for this future.

According to Mr. Pink, we are hurtling into the Conceptual Age, where the majority of jobs will be held by people who create something or by people who are capable of empathizing with others. Most of these jobs will require care, humor, imagination, ingenuity, instinct, joyfulness, personal rapport, or social dexterity.  I believe that the arts can contribute significantly to the acquisition of many of these attributes.

But what about the academics?

A study released in November by the Florida Department of Education illustrates a powerful correlation between fine arts courses and higher academic success in the classroom.  The data (the study reviewed a 12th grade cohort of 188,859 students) showed that “…student indicators of success increase for students in direct correlation to the number of years in which a student is enrolled in school dance, music, theater and visual arts courses.”

The Florida data showed consistent patterns of correlation across all measures:

  • For all students: the more music and art classes taken, the higher the student achievement in such measures as graduation rate and GPA.
  • For students on free and reduced lunch and all ethnicities, the more music and arts classes taken the higher the student achievement in all measures.
  • The more arts classes taken, the less likely a student is to drop out of high school.

So back to the future and student success in Cleveland.  Numerous reports, studies, books and conferences have demonstrated that participation in the arts benefits ALL students — not just the “talented.” Young Audiences and all the arts community has been partnering with the District for many years to integrate the arts in classroom teaching to enhance student achievement.   We are all ready to do more.

Let’s imagine together what might be possible.

— Marsha Dobrzynski, Executive Director, Young Audiences of Northeast Ohio