Actors, Artists Aim to Turn Around Failing Schools

Courtney Williams's picture
Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sarah Jessica Parker, Kerry Washington and Forest Whitaker are adopting some of the nation's worst-performing schools and pledging Monday to help the Obama administration turn them around by integrating arts education.

The President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities will announce a new Turnaround Arts initiative as a pilot project for eight schools with officials from the White House and U.S. Department of Education. Organizers said they aim to demonstrate new research that shows the arts can help reduce behavioral problems and increase student attendance, engagement and academic success.

The two-year initiative will target eight high-poverty elementary and middle schools. The schools were among the lowest-performing schools in each of their states and had qualified for about $14 million in federal School Improvement Grants from the Obama administration. The arts initiative will bring new training for educators at the Aspen Institute, art supplies and musical instruments totaling about $1 million per year, funded by the Ford Foundation, the Herb Alpert Foundation and other sponsors.

Schools selected for the project are in both urban and rural areas. They are in New Orleans; Denver; Boston; Washington; Des Moines, Iowa; Portland, Ore.; Bridgeport, Conn.; and Lame Deer, Mont.

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