Rossetti’s Response to ArtsED Washington

1. What meaningful arts learning experiences (dance, music, theatre, and visual arts) did you have growing up? How/why were these experiences impactful?

Growing up I had a wide variety of meaningful art learning experiences including music, video production, pottery, and dance. Through opportunities provided at home and in school, I learned the basics of several musical instruments including the piano, clarinet, and saxophone. In middle and high school I participated in video production by learning the roles of producer, editor, and cast member. I took a year of pottery and joined my sister in jazz and hip hop dance lessons. These learning experiences allowed me to fully comprehend the phases of a project from conceptualization to completion. I was able to better understand my own strengths and weaknesses because I was trying things outside of my realm, which enabled me to achieve higher quality in all areas of my life. By exceeding the expectations set for myself, I gained a true foundation confidence that I am able to stand on today.

2. The arts (dance, music, theatre, and visual arts) are a core subject in our state definition of basic education and in federal law.(1) However, the reality is that many schools are not providing adequate arts instruction.(2) What do you see as the School Board’s role in ensuring the equitable provision of sequential, standards-based arts instruction to all students?

(1) State:RCW 28A.150.210 Basic education — Goals of school districts.
Federal: Elementary & Secondary Education Act Title IX, Part A, Section 9101 (1)(D)(11), Definitions.

(2) Statewide data shows that 33% of elementary students are getting less than an hour of arts instruction per week and 47% of schools offer instruction in only one of the four primary arts disciplines. Source: Washington State Arts Commission, Arts Education Research Initiative 2009.

I believe the school board’s role in ensuring the equitable provision of sequential, standards-based arts instruction to all students begins with being mindful and consciously aware of the benefits of arts education. The school board must believe that arts education should be incorporated into the top priorities for student development. In order to make arts education a top priority of the board, members need to have a direct connection to arts learning experiences. This could be accomplished by observing the positive impacts that arts learning experiences have on past, current, and future students. I agree that many schools are not providing adequate arts instruction, The school board needs to continually monitor and review the arts education programs in the school district and make a commitment to increasing arts education through a variety of programs to benefit students. The board must monitor and review programs in order to increase the positive impacts of art education. Consideration of arts programs will help influence the school board’s decisions when looking at staffing levels, operating costs, and services provided.

3. It is widely acknowledged that provision of a well-rounded curriculum is a key component of a high quality education. However, studies(3) show that over the past decade the arts have been crowded out of the school day. If elected as a School Director, what strategies do you envision for broadening the school-day curriculum to include the arts?

(3) From enactment of NCLB in 2001, approximately 62% of school districts increased the amount of time spent in elementary schools on English language arts and/ or math, while 44% of districts cut time on science, social studies, art and music, physical education, lunch, or recess. Source: Center on Education Policy NCLB Year 5: Choices, Changes, and Challenges: Curriculum and Instruction in the NCLB Era 2007

As a School Director, I envision broadening the school-day curriculum including arts education through three strategies. The first strategy or focus would be on elementary school education. As a School Director I would urge discussion and offer to facilitate a community, parent, and teacher based conversation about innovative learning environments and year round education. Part of that conversation should include clarification about the number of days actually considered to be a school year. I believe a structural change to the school year is the first step to allowing more creative learning experiences.

I am committed to working toward strengthening the quality of middle school curriculum and I will work to ensure that students in our district have a well-rounded education and positive arts learning experiences. The key component in creating a positive well-rounded education in middle school is to provide a variety of elective classes that include an emphasis on creative learning. Arts education should be an integrated part of vocational instruction. One example may be offering a technology class that focuses on digital editing. Digital editing could be combined with photography and videography to create a photo portfolio or video.

In high school, arts education has the potential to provide an outlet and way for young adults to express themselves in a positive manner. Students in this age group should be given the tools necessary to develop, grow, and make healthy lifestyle decisions. Arts education at the high school level not only allows for free expression and inclusion, but can really highlight on the talents of a gifted student. I am certain that by offering a wide array of art programs in the high school, the district would engage more students in the learning process overall. Sometimes, art or drama class can be that one thing that motivates a student to participate in the learning process. Creative learning experiences could include a continued or renewed focus in activities such as acting, singing, painting, writing, and playing a musical instrument.

4. Extensive research(4) has shown that the arts increases student engagement which is a key factor in addressing major educational challenges [closing the opportunity gap, reducing the dropout rate, preparing more students for college eligibility, and developing the creativity needed in the 21st century workforce]. How do you specifically envision the arts playing a role in student success in your district?

(4) Source: The Arts Education Partnership, a collaboration of national and state arts and education leaders, via their research database ArtsEdSearch.

The arts play a role in student success by exploring and understanding the creative process and applying those experiences to real life. I believe that art can positively transform a personal outlook and positive mindset. Success is achieved from a personal accomplishment that comes from a positive mental attitude and self-confidence. Art enables each student the ability to form foundational skills which can be built upon for a lifetime.

5. If elected, how will you, as a School Director, engage your community (including administrators, arts specialists, classroom teachers, students, families, artists, and community arts organizations) to help inform the education conversation and shape school board policy for arts education?

As a School Director I will continue to listen to, engage with, and learn from the community in all areas of education. I will help to highlight the importance of and the exceptional moments arts education provides. Arts programs have contributed to a positive impact in the lives of our students and a positive influence on the culture of our community.  As a school board member I can help provide focus and help emphasize the importance of arts education in our schools.