Art engineers educational turnaround

This week, Gov. Deval Patrick visited Orchard Gardens, a K-8 school in Roxbury, to announce that the school was among the top performing in the state on last spring’s Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) test. Just three years ago, it was among the lowest performing schools in the state.

One of the big changes implemented by Orchard Gardens Principal Andrew Bolt, as we previously blogged about, was to take most of the money being spent on security for the school and invest it in arts programs. As reported last year, it was not an immediately popular decision:

"In a school notorious for its lack of discipline, where backpacks were prohibited for fear that students would use them to carry weapons, Bott’s bold decision to replace the security guards with art teachers was met with skepticism …”

We have long known that investing in the arts pays off with improved academic achievement. A 2012 report from the National Endowment for the Arts titled, “The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth: Findings from Four Longitudinal Studies masterfully documents this.

This is yet another reason why we are working to elect a mayor Boston who will be a champion of the arts. We want bold strategic planning from City Hall that will integrate the arts into other municipal priorities like education, economic development, and public safety.

How can you help? Pledge to be an arts voter! And raise your arts voice to candidates by tweeting at them, posting on their Facebook walls, and asking them at campaign events where they stand on the arts!

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