Monday, September 26, 2011

Preserving Arts Education

By Guest Blogger Jessica Mele, Executive Director at Performing Arts Workshop

 It's election season and two issues impacting arts education in the Bay Area need your attention. Please read on, and take action today!

Tell the Governor to Support SB 547 - A Better Way to Evaluate Our Schools

What is SB 547? This bill would replace the current statewide accountability system that relies completely on standardized test scores to assess school success, with a new index called the Education Quality Index. The EQI would take into account broader measurements, including a Graduation Rate Index, a College Preparedness Index, and a Career Readiness Index. In addition the bill lists a Creativity and Innovation Index as one of its future priorities.

Why Support SB 547? Cultivating creativity and innovation is a vital component of a complete education and it is imperative to our state's economic recovery and future growth. According to a coalition of researchers, 81% of American corporate leaders say that "creativity is an essential skill for the 21st century work force." Yet schools have narrowed their expectations in recent years, "teaching to the test" because standardized tests are the only public measures of school success.

Take Action Today! The Governor may take action on this bill as soon as this week.

San Francisco Mayoral Candidates On the Arts

On August 23rd, Performing Arts Workshop co-sponsored the SF Mayoral Arts Forum. Over 500 San Francisco voters and arts supporters gathered to hear KQED Forum host Michael Krasny lead an informative discussion on arts issues in San Francisco with top candidates for Mayor. Reporter Jesse Hamlin described the evening in his piece for San Francisco Classical Voice.

Candidates participating on the panel were: Public Defender Jeff Adachi; Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier; Supervisor John Avalos; Board of Supervisors President David Chiu; former Supervisor Bevan Dufty; former Supervisor Tony Hall; City Attorney Dennis Herrera; Mayor Ed Lee; Green Party candidate Terry Baum; and venture capitalist Joanna Rees.

All of the candidates were invited to respond to the Mayoral Arts Forum questionnaire regarding their positions on arts-related issues and their responses have been posted at In preparation for election day on November 8, 2011, we invite all San Francisco voters to familiarize themselves with the candidate responses. Thank you!

Jessica Mele is the Executive Director of Performing Arts Workshop, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping young people develop critical thinking, creative expression, and basic learning skills through the arts. Jessica serves as the Advocacy Co-Chair for the Arts Provider’s Alliance of San Francisco and as a member of the steering committees of Teaching Artists Organized and the Alameda County Office of Education’s Alliance for Arts Learning Leadership. She holds a B.A. in Anthropology and French Studies from Smith College and an Ed. Education Policy and Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

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