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Tuesday, May 20, 2014



Alfre Woodard and Trombone Shorty will adopt Louisiana Turnaround Schools 

Washington, D.C. – President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) co-chairs George Stevens Jr. and Margo Lion today announced the expansion of PCAH’s successful Turnaround Arts initiative – a program designed to help turn around low-performing schools, narrow the achievement gap, and increase student engagement through the arts. The program is expanding in 6 states this year, including three Louisiana schools. The Committee also announced that Turnaround Artists Alfre Woodard and Trombone Shorty will “adopt” Louisiana Turnaround Arts schools and work directly with students to support their arts education. 
The White House, Washington D.C. May 20, 2014
Kim Leavitt (Deputy Director, Louisiana A+ Schools),
Jane Brown and Janice Williams (Homer Elementary),
Joan Riley (Homer Plessy Charter),
Bethany France (Director, Louisiana A+ Schools), Kelli Joseph
(St. Helena Arts & Technology Academy),
Jacques Rodrigue (Executive Director, George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts)

Turnaround Arts is funded through a public-private partnership, receiving more than $5 million over the next three years from the U.S. Department of Education, the National Endowment of the Arts, the Ford Foundation, and other private foundations and companies to bring arts education into low-performing schools. Local program partners will provide an additional $12 million to hire new arts and music teachers; bring teaching artists, art supplies and music instruments into schools; and support arts integration into other core subject areas such as reading, math and science. 

First Lady Michelle Obama, Honorary Chair of the President’s Committee, said, “The Turnaround Arts program has exceeded not just our expectations, but our wildest hopes and dreams. With the help of this program and some School Improvement Grants, math and reading scores have gone up in these schools… attendance is up, enrollment is up…parent engagement is up… suspensions have plummeted…and two of the schools in our pilot improved so dramatically that they are no longer in turnaround status. And today, the students in these schools are engaged in their education like never before.” 

In Louisiana, The George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts will be the local program partner for Turnaround Arts, working directly in schools in New Orleans, Greensburg, and Homer Louisiana. It will be implemented through Louisiana A+ Schools, an initiative of the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts, which is a research-based whole school program with a mission of nurturing creativity in every learner through an arts-integrated school network. Schools selected for the Turnaround Arts: the Louisiana program includes Homer. A Plessy Community School in New Orleans, St. Helena Arts and Technology Academy in Greensburg, and Homer Elementary School in Homer. Selected schools will receive arts education training and resources to address their individual needs. Resources include arts supplies, music instruments, teacher training, and funding for partnerships with community arts education and cultural organizations. High-profile artists will also “adopt” Turnaround Arts schools for the length of the program, working with students, schools and communities to highlight their success. 

“The George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts is happy to announce the addition of these three schools into our Louisiana A+ Schools network, expanding our reach ensure access to high-quality arts-integrated learning for all students” said Jacques Rodrigue, Executive Director of the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts. “This initiative began before Dad [Artist George Rodrigue] got sick and my family and I are excited to form new partnerships so that we can continue to improve schools in the state that Dad loved so much. This investment from the President’s Committee on Arts and Humanities is a major step forward for our organization as we prove that a holistic whole-school approach to arts-integration directly impacts student academic achievement and school environment.” 

Alfre Woodard, one of two Turnaround Artists adopting Louisiana schools, shared, "My work with Turnaround Arts has been tremendously rewarding. I've loved every moment of getting to know these deserving kids and their dedicated teachers and principals. All you have to do is walk in to one of our schools and you can see, hear, and feel the transformation taking place.....the positive energy in the halls, the focus of the teachers and the students in class, the light in a kid's face as he or she finds his or her voice. This sense of purpose is what is turning these schools around. I am honored to be part of it." 

In May 2012, the President’s Committee, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education and the White House Domestic Policy Council, launched Turnaround Arts as a pilot program in eight “turnaround schools” across the country—public schools in the lowest-achieving five percent of their state that are receiving School Improvement Grants through the U.S. Department of Education. Over the last two years, Turnaround Arts has brought intensive arts education resources and expertise into the pilot schools and worked with school leadership to incorporate the arts a part of their reform strategy. Interim evaluation results show that participating schools are demonstrating improved academic performance, increased student and parent engagement and improved culture and climate. 

“We are proud of the progress Turnaround Arts schools have made so far and thrilled to be able to expand the program into more schools across the country,” said PCAH Vice-Chair Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D. “Thanks to the hard work of our artists, program partners and school educators, we have been able to demonstrate that high quality arts education can positively change young lives and turn around failing schools.” 

The expanded program will be working in 35 schools in districts in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Oregon and Washington D.C., with plans to expand to up to 60 schools across the country. Studies show that when students participate in the arts they are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, have higher GPA/SAT scores, are more engaged and cooperative with teachers and peers, and are more self-confident and better able to express their ideas. These benefits are particularly pronounced in high-poverty, low-performing schools. 

Louisiana Turnaround Artists join other artists across the country who have committed to work in Turnaround Arts schools. These include Chad Smith, Clarence Greenwood (aka Citizen Cope), Doc Shaw, Elizabeth Banks, Elton John, Frank Gehry, Jason Mraz, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Josh Groban, Marc Anthony, Rashida Jones, Russell Simmons, the Silk Road Ensemble, and Tim Robbins. These artists join PCAH members who are currently working with the program, including Chuck Close, Damian Woetzel, Forest Whitaker, John Lloyd Young, Kal Penn, Kerry James Marshall, Kerry Washington, Sarah Jessica Parker and Yo-Yo Ma. 

National partners in Turnaround Arts include the U.S. Department of Education, National Endowment for the Arts, the Ford Foundation, the Herb Alpert Foundation, the Rosenthal Family Foundation, the Keith Haring Foundation, Crayola LLC, the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation and Music Theater International. The program is administered in partnership with Americans for the Arts. Local program partners include: Academy of Urban School Leadership, Chicago, IL; Boston Public Schools, Boston, MA; CREATE CA, Los Angeles, CA; Des Moines Public Schools, Des Moines, IA; George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts, Baton Rouge, LA; and Perpich Center for Arts Education, Minneapolis, MN. 

Participating schools were competitively selected by program partners according to national guidelines. Selection criteria included demonstrated need and opportunity, strong school leadership with district support and a commitment to arts education. Turnaround Arts schools represent elementary and middle schools from across the country and encompass a diversity of student demographics and urban and rural settings. In Louisiana, they are: 

1. Homer A. Plessy Community School, New Orleans 
2. St. Helena Arts and Technology Academy, Greensburg 
3. Homer Elementary School, Homer 

For more information and a complete list of Turnaround Arts schools in the U.S., please visit http://turnaroundarts.pcah.gov/ 

About the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities 
Created in 1982 under President Reagan, the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) is an advisory committee to the White House on cultural issues. The PCAH works directly with the three primary cultural agencies—National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institute of Museum and Library Services—as well as other federal partners and the private sector, to address policy questions in the arts and humanities, to initiate and support key programs in those disciplines and to recognize excellence in the field. Its core areas of focus are education, cultural exchange, and creative economy. Under the leadership of the First Lady and Honorary Chairman, and through the efforts of its federal and private members, the President’s Committee has compiled an impressive legacy over its tenure, conducting major research and policy analysis, and catalyzing important federal cultural programs, both domestic and international. For more information, please visit http://www.pcah.gov/

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