Joseph M. Petty's Response to the Arts & Culture Questionnaire

Arts instruction increases achievement across all disciplines and develops the whole child. What will you do as a school committee member to champion arts education for our youth both in our schools and communities? How will you balance the importance of arts education with the constant pull to teach to the test? The start of a mayor’s tenure often sets the tone of city council priorities. When elected, what actions will you take in your first 100 days to provide support and resources for the creative community?

Our Worcester Public Schools is doing a tremendous job of educating our students and I am proud that we have the highest graduation rate of any urban school district. We need to make sure that arts are being considered at every grade level in every school.

Due to deficiencies in the state funding formula, our schools are being underfunded by $90 million every year. I will continue to advocate for changes in the Foundation Budget Review Commission’s recommendations that would result in tens of millions of dollars every year, which we could devote to hiring teachers and expanding the arts offerings to our students and across our school district. I would hope the creative community would join me in advocating at the Statehouse for these changes that would do nothing less than improve the education of each of the 25,000 students that attend the Worcester Public Schools every day.
This is the constant back and forth that every principal and teacher feels about the amount of testing that our students are mandated to take every year.
 Ultimately, this is a decision that is left to the superintendent and the principals of each individual school. As chairman of the School Committee, I continue to support arts education, but at present the state has not made arts education, nor funding, a priority. We need to change the mind of the state Legislature and push for more classes in arts and arts education.

Two years ago in my inaugural address I said that I would like to see developments that receive a TIF make a donation to a public arts fund. I was not able to make this happen in the last two years, but I will commit myself to making it happen in the next two years.

I was at asked by a reporter about the murals from POW!WOW! Worcester and I said, “I don’t get it, but I love it.” I meant that at the time, I did not understand it. After two of these mural festivals I can say that I truly get it. I now understand the power of the artistic community; how they can elevate our city and move us all forward together.  

Do you like this page?

Community Impact

The Drama Studio is one of a handful of youth theatres in the United States that offers quality, range, and depth in its acting training programs. For Springfield-area youth, the Studio's conservatory program offers an unusual opportunity for training that prepares its graduates (all of whom are college bound) to...