San Francisco Gets Serious About Arts Education

September 28 was the beginning of a new era for arts education in San Francisco schools. The San Francisco Unified School district and the City are partnering on a historic effort to bring back the arts for all students. The Arts Education Master Plan will revitalize the education of San Francisco’s young citizens by capturing the diverse cultural and artistic energy of a city that is internationally renowned for its love of the arts.

At 10:30 a.m. at the San Francisco Performing Arts Library and Museum, Mayor Gavin Newsom, SFUSD’s Interim Superintendent Gwen Chan, and SF Arts Commission President P.J. Johnston joined members of the Board of Supervisors and SFUSD Board of Education, arts providers from across the city and students from Lowell High School, Claire Lilienthal and George Washington Carver Academic Elementary Schools in celebration of the Arts Education Master Plan.

“This master plan is a living document that exemplifies the partnership between the City and the school district on arts education,” said Mayor Newsom. “San Francisco’s efforts are unprecedented – and over the next few months, we will witness ‘order of magnitude’ changes in the arts education that children receive,” continued the Mayor.

The Arts Education Master Plan is San Francisco Unified School District’s blueprint for integrating the arts into each student’s daily curriculum. The Plan calls for a sequential, comprehensive arts education program that reflects the high quality of San Francisco’s artistic landscape in the areas of dance, drama, music, visual arts and literary arts.
The guiding principle of this plan is that all students deserve both access to and equity in arts education and each school community, no matter the neighborhood or academic emphasis, will be called upon to embrace the notion that every student must be provided with the arts as an integral part of the academic day.

Interim Superintendent Gwen Chan said “In San Francisco, we are committed to providing every student with a well-rounded education. For too many years, some students have not had opportunities to develop artistic literacy. Every school and every student will benefit from this plan.”

Community Involvement

The Master Plan reflects the views of more than 1,500 students, parents, teachers, administrators, arts providers, and civic and business leaders. Proposition H approved by San Francisco voters in 2004, became the catalyst, making the Arts Education Master Plan, completed in August 2006, a funded mandate. The extensive increase in arts education spending, programming, support and resources that the Plan recommends will be funded largely by Prop H funds. Additional funding, such as the new State funding for the arts, will be aligned to the Arts Education Master Plan.

The new plan will hopefully keep San Francisco school students in touch with the vibrant artistic community around them and help them to take advantage of the many enriching opportunities for art in the classroom and beyond. San Francisco schools are ready to implement the new curriculum program at all levels to ensure a consistent and fulfilling learning experience for all students. Students, parents, and teachers at San Francisco schools are confident that the Arts Education Master Plan will mark their community as one committed to continued arts education

Find It in the Library!

Have a question? Need help building a garden fence? Wondering about the Universe? While surfing the Internet is fun it can lead to multiple sidetracks and you may become lost in the magic of a million sites and resources. Your public library, on the other hand, offers personal attention and guidance as you wade through books, magazines, articles, and even venture into Internet services provided there with the focused talents of your library staff.

Librarians possess a vast knowledge of reading materials of every imaginable type. Ask librarians a question and I guarantee they will find an answer. If one does not pop up instantaneous, they will know exactly where to search. Within minutes (and sometimes seconds) you will be on your way to the outer reaches of knowledge and brilliance. Librarians are most often very friendly and helpful, acknowledging that they are public employees and that you represent the public. They know many quick and easy answers but they also love a challenge. If your book is not immediately on hand they will search the inter-library exchange or order the book and materials which will be in your hands within days.

Libraries offer programs including book clubs for toddlers, adolescents, and adults. They often have movie screenings of public interest, art displays, and special performances. Local libraries are excellent when it comes to honoring local, county, or state artists and authors. You may attend a book signing in the morning, an artistic presentation in the afternoon, and a special lecture in the evening. And if you need to hold a public meeting or conference, a wonderful resource is the hallowed halls and rooms of the library. Not only are these spaces spacious and inviting, libraries often provide publicity and refreshments to draw in many participants. Plus being in a library just fills attendees with wisdom.

School libraries are also tremendous resources for students. Although many secondary libraries now focus on computer and Internet resources, there are also stacks of real, true, bound books. To book lovers and those who are working to create family book lovers, there are few things more precious than the touch of fine pages inside of a beautifully engraved cover of a book. I love my iBooks and Kindle books for their quick convenience, but when I truly adore a book, I have to possess the hardcover version so that I can enjoy the glorious words and messages inside and the tactile magnificence of fine paper.

Elementary libraries are splendid with their eye-catching displays of picture books that entice young readers into the fold. These librarians know how to animate reading and draw readers into the wonder of each turning page. They know how to pique interest and encourage youngsters to hold books as treasured commodities. Reading programs at both school and public libraries teach kids the excitement held within pages and transform many into avid, lifelong readers.

Finally, most librarians with whom I deal are funny with a superb sense of humor. They love to laugh and joke; they love to guide and explain. They are rich with ideas and information. The only time they lose this humorous tone is if you mess with “their Library”. Misplacing a book from its assigned spot in a stack, leaving paper fringes under a table, sneaking a book without checking it out may send the librarian over the edge. A love and belief in the power of books requires that every library adventurer must acquire this same love and belief including exactness and honesty.

Libraries are safe sanctuaries that provide warmth and a sense of security. They are ominous in the marvels held with in and the way that they can solve mysteries as they create curiosity and surprises. One of the most magical gifts you can offer a child is a library card followed by weekly visits. It is an educational opportunity beyond compare.