The President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities has announced the expansion of its Turnaround Arts initiative, an effort to improve low-performing schools, narrow the achievement gap, and increase student engagement through the arts.
Launched in 2012, the initiative so far has brought arts education resources to eight low-performing schools across the country. Interim evaluation results show that the schools piloting the program are demonstrating improved academic performance, increased student and parent engagement, and improved culture and climate. In addition to more than $5 million in new funds over the next three years from the U.S. Department of Education, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Ford Foundation to expand the program to thirty-five schools in districts in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Oregon and Washington D.C., local partners have pledged an additional $12 million. Those funds will be used to hire new arts and music teachers, help schools attract teaching artists and purchase art supplies and musical instruments, and support the integration of the arts into core subjects such as reading, math, and science.
"The Turnaround Arts program has exceeded not just our expectations, but our wildest hopes and dreams," said First Lady Michelle Obama, who is honorary chair of the committee on the arts and humanities. "With the help of this program and some school improvement grants, math and reading scores have gone up in these schools, attendance is up, enrollment is up, parent engagement is up, suspensions have plummeted, and two of the schools in our pilot improved so dramatically that they are no longer in turnaround status. And today, the students in these schools are engaged in their education like never before."