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Do Arts Matter? Seattle School Board Candidates Weigh In

Do the arts matter? ArtsEd Washington, a nonprofit advocacy group, queried school board candidates across the state about the influence of the arts in their own lives and whether arts education would be a priority if elected this November.

Here are some highlights from the survey of those running for Seattle School board (candidate Betty Patu, who is running unopposed for Position 7, did not respond).

A Meaningful Arts Moment from Childhood

Sue Peters (Position 4): Seeing "Mummenschanz", performing plays with her siblings and neighbors.

Suzanne Dale Estey (Position 4): Singing in church and school choirs, performing in the Roosevelt High school orchestra.

Stephan Blanford (Position 5): Playing the violin in elementary school and drums in middle school/high school jazz bands.

LaCrese Green (Position 5): Piano lessons and attending gospel music school during the summers.

On the School Board's Role in Providing Arts Education

Peters: Supports more funding for arts education, field trips to theaters, and replicating artist-in-residencies throughout the district.

Dale Estey: Says she will be a strong advocate for arts in Olympia. Supports creative instruction early on, especially in elementary and middle school grades.

Blanford: Advocates to get sufficient funding from the state legislature.

Green: "The board's role is to uphold the law." "I would have no choice but to see that adequate arts instruction were available to all students."

On How to Broaden the School-Day Curriculum to Include the Arts

Peters: The onslaught of testing has crowded out the arts. STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) is not the only direction for kids; there's also STEAM (the "A" being arts, like the initiative happening at Hawthorne Middle School).

Dale Estey: The curriculum needs to be broadened to include art, music and physical ed. There are partnership opportunities to pursue. One recent example is the partnership pursued with the City of Seattle. Supports a graduation standard with increased requirements for participation in the arts.

Blanford: Explore options such as extending the school day.

Green: A return to what used to be, when the school day included the arts as extracurriculars.

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