Sunday, February 22, 2009

Poster Design ideas in Response to Budget cuts, drafts

Click Image for larger view

Poster above my response to BLS plan to "shovel" a successful arts program into the trash. Ignores decades of research on the importance of the arts/creative learning strategies in education. BLS is taking a step backwards and also leaving arts only to those who can afford it or have the time/luck to get their child into a free program.

Poster below from quote I recorded at a school committee budget meeting, February 45h. Parent testimony on the horrible impact of budget cuts on the schools.

Poster below highlighting research findings on the critical role that the arts play in education. They aren't just "extras" - they can make a HUGE difference in long term academic success. I chose school bus colors because busing is a heavy financial and political issue that defines the system. Giant political/economic/social/historic issues with buses and schools and Boston. Ted Landsmark had this to say on the issue in an op ed in the Boston Globe, January 13, 2009.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Boston Phoenix Article on Education and School Committee #

The Boston School Committee is a huge part of the crisis in education in Boston. Stubborn. Doesn't act/advocate in the best interest of students.

26 Court Street, 4th Floor
Boston, MA 02108
Hours: Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Telephone: 617-635-9014
Fax: 617-635-9689
Elizabeth A. Sullivan, Executive Secretary

Boston Phoenix article on Boston Schools >>>>>>>>

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Letter to the Headmaster

February 12, 2009

Dear Headmaster Mooney-Teta,

I am the parent of an 8th grader at the Boston Latin School and am devastated to learn that the budget proposal for 2009-10 eliminates one of the best public school art programs and most dedicated faculty that I have encountered both as a parent and a former teacher. These cuts destroy a program that has been painstakingly built over the past decade to become an award-winning model for arts education in US public high schools.

I am stunned by your decision to target the arts program. Why destroy something that serves such a large percentage of the student body, fosters academic achievements in school, is instrumental in college admissions, and leads to their success in the workplace? I understand that there is economic panic, but this decision I respectfully must argue will result in long-term damage to the future of too many young people.

The arts curriculum has been the key to engaging my son in school. It is why he has maintained A's and B's in his classes. The arts teachers foster a sense of community in their classrooms and then outside the classroom in the performing groups. They treat the students as unique individuals with unlimited creative potential. Attending music classes is how our son made friends and why he wants to get up so early and get to school. The arts teachers/curriculum gave my son confidence in a new, giant, often overwhelming institution. Playing trumpet in the football and junior jazz bands gave him a sense of pride in and connection to the school that frankly, would be impossible to achieve in any of the academic classes or clubs. He would have dropped out last year if not for the music program and the music teachers. Mr. Snyder is particularly outstanding – I am appalled that he was given notice.

There is extensive research to support the fact that my son's experience is not unique and that the arts are a critical component of students’ learning and achievement in other academic areas. For example, see the Harvard-based study on the impact of music in non-musical areas, Forgeard M, Winner E, Norton A, Schlaug G. Practicing a Musical Instrument in Childhood is Associated with Enhanced Verbal Ability and Nonverbal Reasoning. PLoS ONE, 2008; 3 (10): e3566 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0003566. Research has refuted past notions of the creative arts as “extras” and placed them in the center of k-12 education. Take a moment and listen to the voices of the students in case the scientific research isn't enough:

The Massachusetts Arts Curriculum Framework reflects these findings and states that:
“All students in the Commonwealth’s public schools will become proficient in understanding the arts and communicating in at least one arts discipline by the time they graduate from high school. In order to achieve these goals, it is recommended in this framework that students begin their study of the arts in the elementary grades, and continue to study one or more of the arts disciplines throughout middle and high school.”

Ending the arts curriculum at the high school level will severely impact many students’ abilities to get into college and receive scholarships, thereby cancelling out the reason they attend the Boston Latin School. Colleges are looking for students whose achievements go beyond the traditional academic subjects. A substantial record of involvement in the arts in many cases may tip the balance in favor of a student's admission.

Finally, the students will be at a disadvantage in their future careers without arts in their curriculum. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, an organization whose board includes executives from Intel, Adobe, Cisco, Ford, HP, Apple, Microsoft and Verizon, lists the arts as one of the core subjects in its "Framework for 21st Century Learning." The Framework also specifies cognitive/behavioral skills that will be crucial for 21st-century workers, including:

o Creativity and innovation
o Communication and collaboration
o Flexibility and adaptability
o Initiative and self-direction
o Leadership and responsibility

Please commit to using any funds which may be returned to the BLS budget for the restoration of the arts faculty, and if the worst-case scenario prevails, we further ask that you reallocate the cuts in a more equitable way that reflects the integral role of the arts in the Massachusetts core curriculum and the BLS educational experience.

Sincerely yours,

Lisa Link

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Why teach creative arts in public schools?

The students say it best. >>

Today I had talks with office aides/interns for:
Senator Kennedy, Senator Kerry, Congressman Lynch,  Congressman Cappuano, State Rep. Rush, State Rep. Forry, State Senator Walsh, the liason on education fro Mayor Menino. I also wrote state reps Balser and Kaufman since I'd done interviews with them on education 8 years ago for the Boston Cyberarts Festival.

If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war. As it stands, we have allowed this to happen to ourselves.... We have, in effect, been committing an act of unthinking, unilateral educational disarmament.

The above quote dates back to 1983 and can be found in Ronald Reagan’s A Nation at Risk.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Parent Meeting with City Councilor

"They are going to have the debt for 
this for the rest of their lives 
and we're not going to educate them to handle it."

"Where is the outrage on the part of the superintendent, 
why aren't they advocating for the kids, for education?"

"The time is now for bold decisions"

Quotes from tonight's meeting at a parent's house with City Councilor John Tobin - not sure who said which one.... The parent was incredibly generous to open up her home to others and even  had sandwiches in case people were coming from work.  I learned that there are really great parents at all these schools who I wished I was meeting under different circumstances and that:

  1. The school committee is appointed by the mayor.
  2. The school committee was offered the chance to hold their Feb 4th meeting in city council chambers so more parents could attend. They turned it down, met at Court street, and turned kids away and parents away -they treated people they are supposed to represent horribly.
  3. There are no school committee members representing West Roxbury, East Boston, or Allston/Brighton.
  4.  Some school committee members don't attend any of the budget hearings, one woman, ?Helen?, from JP does a lot of work and takes it seriously.
  5. The school committee came up with a budget that involved no-thought and is anti-education - no targeted, thoughtful budgeting or elimination of waste - just firing a lot of teachers impacting some schools (my child's) more than others. They are running a system with almost a billion dollars when you add in grants for 57,000 students and they cannot figure out how to disperse it.   There are huge amounts of administrative waste - duplication of services and millions spent on transporting  students around the city on almost empty buses.
  6. The councilor worked on a plan to create more equitable neighborhood zones several years ago and it didn't pass.
  7. Non-profits own 53% of the land  in Boston - don't pay taxes - why not make them each adopt a school???
  8. Wednesday, 10-12 there is a meeting for the school committee to present their budget to the city council and we are invited.
  9. March 28th school committee sends budget to Boston City Council, John Connelly acting chair of education on the Council.
  10. Teachers were given notice, pulled out of classes in tears in front of the students. The Councilor said the process is still early, the budget isn't set in stone until June 30th but I think so much damage has already been done.
  11. We should push hard on the state to pass the increase meals tax and lobby the school committee and demand responses.
  12. So, yes the economy is bad and local aid has dropped but really, in the end, the school committee has hundreds of millions of dollars to work with.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Boston Latin School Gets Least Per Student

A page out of the BPS Budget reveals that the Boston Latin School, a  public high school serving 20% of the city's high school students gets the LEAST amount of money, $4,430 per student, as compared to say,  $17K at Day & Evening Academy. 

Monday, February 2, 2009

Councilor Yoon's good response, wish he was governor

Dear Lisa,

Thanks so much for writing about your concern for the school budget.

I am a BPS parent myself. My two kids go to Lee Academy Pilot School in Dorchester. I am feeling the anxiety as well.

Rest assured that I will do everything in my power to oppose cuts to education that will short-change our children's future.

Maintaining excellence at our flagship of BLS and other Boston Public Schools are not just important for your children and our city, but for our country. These schools, and all BPS schools, prepare the next generation of leaders who will tackle the challenges we face now. Undercutting instruction and enrichment for them at a critical time in your kids' life makes no sense.

What makes more sense is to figure out what expenses and programs outside the classroom can bear the burden, and also to once and for all take seriously the problem that we do not maximize our city's revenue potential, making us vulnerable to the whims of state government and local aid.

I will push hard on this issue and make sure that our voices are heard, because as you have told me, our future literally depends on it.

Thanks for voicing your concern,