2011 Seattle School Board Candidate Survey

The Office of Arts & Culture and Seattle Arts Commission partnered with ArtsEd Washington to develop and send a short questionnaire about arts education to each of the eight candidates running for four seats on the Seattle School Board. ArtsEd Washington is the statewide arts education nonprofit working to advance arts education for all Washington students through leadership, partnership and communication.

We asked the candidates about their arts experiences growing up, what role arts education can play in closing the achievement/opportunity gap and how they would help shape school board policy for arts education. We urge you to read their full responses below.

The Seattle School Board represents seven geographical regions, known as Districts, within the city of Seattle. All Seattle voters get to vote for the four open board positions in the Nov. 8 general election.

Want to know more about the candidates? Watch a Sept. 28 election debate between candidates for Seattle School Board on Seattle Channel.


Candidate Responses


District 1

Incumbent Peter Maier, a lawyer, who prior to serving on the school board served as president of the Schools First Coalition, is being challenged by Sharon Peaslee, a producer, director and writer with teaching credentials in English and speech/drama.

Peter Maier (incumbent)
1. What meaningful experiences in the arts (dance, music, theater, and visual arts) did you have growing up? Why do you remember these?
When I attended Seattle Public Schools I played baritone horn in the band at John Rogers Elementary and at Jane Addams Junior High School. While in high school I took lessons in classical guitar, paying for the lessons with my earnings from mowing lawns and babysitting. I still enjoy music, and have a wide range of musical tastes from opera on KING FM to world music on KEXP. I have also taught myself silver smithing.

My daughter played the flute in the orchestra at Whitman MS and Ballard HS, and both my children took photography classes.
2. What role do you think the arts can play in supporting key education priorities such as closing the opportunity gap, reducing the dropout rate, and preparing more students for college eligibility and the creativity needed in the 21st century workforce?
Arts are an important part of a child's education, whether by music, stage performance, dance, crafts or the visual arts. The arts are part of our culture and provide an impetus for creativity in other academic fields. Arts can help students build on their academics in other areas (for example the connections between physical movement and math and between stage performance and language development) and can help keep students engaged and focused on school.
3. The arts are defined as a core subject in the state definition of basic education, but the reality is that many schools are not providing adequate arts instruction.* What do you see as the School Board's role in ensuring the equitable provision of sequential, standards-based arts instruction to all Seattle students?
The School Board has adopted a Strategic Plan that includes as one of its core elements the building and strengthening of arts programs in schools across the District. In implementing the Strategic Plan, the Board has adopted budgets that help build music programs in schools that have lacked strong or equitable programs, for example by paying for musical instruments for Madrona K-8 and Aki Kurose MS and by funding the development of a stronger orchestra program at Nathan Hale HS.

The District is working on a standards- based arts curriculum with the help of a major, one-year $1 million competitive grant from the Wallace Foundation that was initiated in the past few months. The School Board approved this grant and helped facilitate it by providing a steady, focused leadership environment that encourages grant makers to choose Seattle Public Schools among many districts nationwide that apply for such grants. This grant focuses on planning for making arts programs more equitable across the District and for making programs stronger at those schools who due to past events or lack of community/PTSA resources do not have the arts programs that the school's students need and deserve. The hope and expectation is that Wallace Foundation will follow its planning grant with additional funding for implementation of the arts plan, as has occurred in other districts that have received planning grants from then Wallace Foundation.

More broadly, as a Board member, I have spent many hours lobbying Olympia for full funding of K-12 education and have worked to pass school levies that provide the funds for our schools. We do not have overall adequate funding of K-12 schools, with the result that arts and other worthy programs do not receive the financial resources that are needed.
4. If elected or re-elected, how will you help the School Board lead engagement of the greater community (including administrators, classroom teachers, arts specialists, students, families, artists, and community arts organizations) to help inform the education conversation and shape school board policy for arts education?
I will continue to include arts in the conversation about how best to direct program funds in this era of reduced State funding. This will include the annual budget process and planning for programs in our schools, as well as the BEX IV capital levy that will be on the ballot in February 2013. I would also work with community partners such as the Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs, PNB Ballet, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Symphony, to strengthen SPS arts programs.
*Statewide data shows that 33% of elementary students are getting less than a hour of arts instruction per week and 47% of schools offer instruction in only one of the four primary arts disciplines). Source: Washington State Arts Commission, Arts Education Research Initiative 2009
Sharon Peaslee
1. What meaningful experiences in the arts (dance, music, theater, and visual arts) did you have growing up? Why do you remember these?
Most of the schools I attended had strong visual arts, dance, music and drama. In all, the appeal was so strong that I pursued a multi-disciplinary Communications major in college that included Theater, Film, Art/Art History. And I've taken dance classes throughout my life. I now work as a writer/producer/director-always thriving on the creative process.

What I remember most vividly in school was the satisfaction of artistic self-expression without judgment. This was in stark contrast to academic subjects that were constrained in focus, and graded using external criteria.
2. What role do you think the arts can play in supporting key education priorities such as closing the opportunity gap, reducing the dropout rate, and preparing more students for college eligibility and the creativity needed in the 21st century workforce?
All students need the freedom and support to explore their artistic abilities and to find ways to express themselves creatively. This taps them into highly important parts of their consciousness and intelligence. Without any further connection to academic subjects or career goals, this process is important in itself. However, there are known links between artistic and intellectual ability. For example, developing musical ability aids in developing mathematical ability. In the current test driven system we may need this kind of evidence to justify a curriculum rich in the arts, but in my opinion this is a false justification. The arts are as important to our lives and culture as the sciences and should be as much a part of our education system.

We need programs rich in the arts to educate students who wish to pursue any number of artistic pathways through school and later in life. Many students who may be struggling and failing academically probably have artistic abilities that have never been tapped and developed. This also applies to students who may be doing very well academically, but overlooking other talents simply because they haven't found them. We need to offer students artistic pathways to success so that all students can discover and develop their abilities.

Creating strong, compelling arts programs in our district will go far toward bridging the opportunity gap and reducing the dropout rate. There are many careers that draw on artistic ability, and we need to offer educational pathways into those careers. Students are more inspired by their own satisfaction at achieving something, than by anything else. Offering a wide variety of arts programs at all levels will give this opportunity to many students, motivating them to stay in school and pursue a career that they want for themselves.

I would like to see a high school program around video game development and CAD, that integrates arts and technology. I would also like to see a strong fine arts high school in our district.
3. The arts are defined as a core subject in the state definition of basic education, but the reality is that many schools are not providing adequate arts instruction.* What do you see as the School Board's role in ensuring the equitable provision of sequential, standards-based arts instruction to all Seattle students?
The School Board must make this a high priority for our district. That being said, I am not in favor of standards-based arts instruction. My children were both victims of this approach in Bellevue School District. Both failed every art class they took because they weren't able to complete projects in the time allowed. I asked the teacher why he didn't give them more time and he said he was required to deliver the (standards-based) curriculum as prescribed by the district and wasn't permitted to slow it down to accommodate the work pace of my children. This is an unintended consequence of standards-based art education. Another unintended consequence is stifling the creative process by evaluating artistic work against standardized criteria. No professional artist would support this.

It killed art for both my children for a number of years and I will never put them in an arts classroom that is standards-based or graded. As a creative professional with a strong arts background I'm committed to teaching the arts in a manner that encourages exploration, experimentation, and innovation that is internally driven and not judged against external standards.

If elected to School Board I will push for arts programs that support creative and artistic development with sensitivity and respect for the needs of the process.
4. If elected or re-elected, how will you help the School Board lead engagement of the greater community (including administrators, classroom teachers, arts specialists, students, families, artists, and community arts organizations) to help inform the education conversation and shape school board policy for arts education?
I will put in place a process to solicit input and collaboration from all sectors of the broader community. It could be an Arts Council or an advisory committee. It would include representative teachers, parents, students and community members. The enormous challenge will be to create arts offerings in all schools with current budget restrictions. But this may lead to more innovative after-school programs, and I favor this approach for the freedom it will give to students as well as to community members who may wish to develop and teach in such programs. The possibilities are limitless.
*Statewide data shows that 33% of elementary students are getting less than a hour of arts instruction per week and 47% of schools offer instruction in only one of the four primary arts disciplines). Source: Washington State Arts Commission, Arts Education Research Initiative 2009

District 2

Incumbent Sherry Carr, a past president of the Seattle Council PTSA and senior manager in business operations at The Boeing Company, is being challenged by Kate Martin, a planning, design and construction management consultant with a long history of neighborhood civic involvement.

Sherry Carr (incumbent)
1. What meaningful experiences in the arts (dance, music, theater, and visual arts) did you have growing up? Why do you remember these?
I believe strongly in the value of arts education and was fortunate enough to have parents that urged participation. I took piano lessons for 9 years, played the flute for 6 years, and took both tap and jazz dance lessons. I also directed the school play when I was in the 9th grade - a role coveted by many other students. As an adult, I invested thousands of volunteer hours supporting arts education for students. As PTA President, I fundraised to pay for an arts focused program at Bagley Elementary including hiring a multi arts half time teacher, artists in residencies, after school arts programs including dance and theater, and brought Dance Chance with PNB to Bagley (still an active program). I personally donated money to buy three musical instruments so that low income students wouldn't have to rent equipment to participate in instrumental music. I volunteered alongside my daughters for several years with the Seattle Children's Theater and served on the Board of Pacifica Children's Choirs. My own children have been active in both music (Pacifica, flute, vocal jazz) and dance (ballet, Irish step dance). I was a season ticket holder to PNB for several years before joining the Seattle School Board.

I remember these experiences for the joy and richness they brought to my life. As a child, I loved to play music and dance. As an adult, I experienced the joys of parenthood watching my 4 year old dance ballet on the stage at the Phinney Neighborhood Center and later at McCaw Hall. My life was enriched by planning and raising money that enabled others to experience that same joy. Our low income students at Bagley (then a high poverty school) learn African dance, participate in theater arts residencies, and benefited from spectacular visual instruction.
2. What role do you think the arts can play in supporting key education priorities such as closing the opportunity gap, reducing the dropout rate, and preparing more students for college eligibility and the creativity needed in the 21st century workforce?
I believe in 'Ten Lessons the Arts Teach' by Stanford University's Elliot Eisner, and see arts education as pivotal to retaining the engagement of students. It is through the arts that students will learn about qualitative relationships where judgment rather than rules prevail; that there can be more than one right answer to a question; that students can communicate what they feel without speaking. It is often arts programming that keep students in school when they might otherwise drop out. The link between music and math is clear, enabling students to excel at both and advance in math where they may not otherwise have.

As a Boeing manager that has worked for decades around engineers, I also understand the creative thinking that is required to innovate to continue to design and build the world's products. Shortages of students in Science, Engineering, Technology, and Math (STEM) subjects might instead be filled with students whose first passion was the arts but learned the others as a result. Innovation has been key to the success of American industry and the arts enable the ability to innovate.
3. The arts are defined as a core subject in the state definition of basic education, but the reality is that many schools are not providing adequate arts instruction.* What do you see as the School Board's role in ensuring the equitable provision of sequential, standards-based arts instruction to all Seattle students?
Arts education in Seattle Public Schools improved significantly during my tenure on the Board. This has occurred at a time when exactly the opposite has happened to our K-12 funding from Washington State. I believe that is evidence of our collective commitment to arts education in Seattle. Through our general education dollars, we have distributed funding equitably to all schools to ensure that some consistent minimum amount of arts education is offered at every school. To date, those dollars have been protected from reduction in spite of $100M in funding shortfalls over 4 years. In addition, we have pursued a partnership strategy where we have joined with community partners to offer enhancements to the general fund allocation.

We have been advised that shortfalls will continue for several more years. Our strategy in the near term will be to protect the progress we have made and position ourselves for increased investment when we come out of this recession. We must maintain/protect the aligned standards based curriculum that has been developed in order to ensure a high quality arts education to every Seattle Public Schools student.
4. If elected or re-elected, how will you help the School Board lead engagement of the greater community (including administrators, classroom teachers, arts specialists, students, families, artists, and community arts organizations) to help inform the education conversation and shape school board policy for arts education?
The evidence of my commitment to arts education in Seattle is clear. My strategy has been and will continue to be to link a high quality arts education to improved results desired in math, reading and writing achievement and a reduced dropout rate. By linking the benefits of a high quality arts education to other academic achievements, it will be seen as a critical strategy to improving outcomes for all students. Further, I will demonstrate the link between arts and the development of the critical thinking skills, judgment, and advanced communication skills necessary for a 21st century economy. The two strategies will ensure that arts education is viewed as a valuable investment and not a cost to the system.
*Statewide data shows that 33% of elementary students are getting less than a hour of arts instruction per week and 47% of schools offer instruction in only one of the four primary arts disciplines). Source: Washington State Arts Commission, Arts Education Research Initiative 2009
Has not responded.
Kate Martin
1. What meaningful experiences in the arts (dance, music, theater, and visual arts) did you have growing up? Why do you remember these?
2. What role do you think the arts can play in supporting key education priorities such as closing the opportunity gap, reducing the dropout rate, and preparing more students for college eligibility and the creativity needed in the 21st century workforce?
3. The arts are defined as a core subject in the state definition of basic education, but the reality is that many schools are not providing adequate arts instruction.* What do you see as the School Board's role in ensuring the equitable provision of sequential, standards-based arts instruction to all Seattle students?
4. If elected or re-elected, how will you help the School Board lead engagement of the greater community (including administrators, classroom teachers, arts specialists, students, families, artists, and community arts organizations) to help inform the education conversation and shape school board policy for arts education?
*Statewide data shows that 33% of elementary students are getting less than a hour of arts instruction per week and 47% of schools offer instruction in only one of the four primary arts disciplines). Source: Washington State Arts Commission, Arts Education Research Initiative 2009

District 3

Incumbent Harium Martin-Morris, a software development manager at The Boeing Company who began his career as an elementary school and high school teacher is being challenged by Michelle Buetow, a former high-tech marketing executive, volunteer at her children's school and member of the school district's Alternative Schools Advisory Committee.

Harium Martin-Morris (incumbent)
1. What meaningful experiences in the arts (dance, music, theater, and visual arts) did you have growing up? Why do you remember these?
Although I grew up in poverty, one key element of that up bring was the prominence of the arts in my life. My mother selected my elementary school because of the music program they had. I leaned the clarinet and choral music from 2nd grade. By 6th grade I added piano to my skills. All the experiences and training in those younger years stayed with me through high school and college. I was in multiple choral groups during those years. In fact, 30 years after I graduated from college, I still get together with member of my college choral group in various parts of the country just to sing. When I raised my children I made sure that they both played at least two instruments and participated in the visual arts as well. I am confident that the academic success that attained is in part due to their arts education.
2. What role do you think the arts can play in supporting key education priorities such as closing the opportunity gap, reducing the dropout rate, and preparing more students for college eligibility and the creativity needed in the 21st century workforce?
There are those that believe that the arts are additions to the core subjects. The arts are part of core subjects. Instead of the 3R's of reading, writing and arithmetic, I like to thing Arts, Reading, Math, and Science (ARMS) as being core to what we do in education. My goal is wrap our ARMS around every student in our district. The research is clear, students that receive musical training perform better in math. It is also known that arts keep students in school that may not have other reasons to come to school. Once we can keep a student engaged, we have an increased chance of them graduating.
3. The arts are defined as a core subject in the state definition of basic education, but the reality is that many schools are not providing adequate arts instruction.* What do you see as the School Board's role in ensuring the equitable provision of sequential, standards-based arts instruction to all Seattle students?
Part of the work we are doing around curriculum alignment is to insure that every student gets the same opportunities and access to all core content. The role of the board is to set the direction through our policies.
4. If elected or re-elected, how will you help the School Board lead engagement of the greater community (including administrators, classroom teachers, arts specialists, students, families, artists, and community arts organizations) to help inform the education conversation and shape school board policy for arts education?
For me the part of engagement process is using my relationships that I have with the arts community. I am on the arts advisory boards and had several friends in various arts communities. These relationships along with the districts key relationships give multiple views.
*Statewide data shows that 33% of elementary students are getting less than a hour of arts instruction per week and 47% of schools offer instruction in only one of the four primary arts disciplines). Source: Washington State Arts Commission, Arts Education Research Initiative 2009
Michelle Buetow
1. What meaningful experiences in the arts (dance, music, theater, and visual arts) did you have growing up? Why do you remember these?
As a somewhat serious child who put pressure on herself to do well in her college prep classes, the arts provided a much-needed dose of creativity and freedom throughout my grade school and high school years. Music lessons, choir, band...all provided a chance at self-expression...as well as a place to form friendships, aside from studying books in isolation.

In addition, with a keen interest in language arts from my earliest memories, the place where I found math accessible, and interesting, was through the arts...through the study of music theory in grade school -- and its intersection with math principles...and through the study of visual art in high school -- and its intersection with geometric principles. (The most creative high school teacher I had was my geometry/calculus teacher, because he made math come alive via accompanying art projects.)
2. What role do you think the arts can play in supporting key education priorities such as closing the opportunity gap, reducing the dropout rate, and preparing more students for college eligibility and the creativity needed in the 21st century workforce?
An argument often raised as a reason for supporting arts in school is the potential of the arts to capture the imagination of students turned off by standard subjects and studying from textbooks, and keeping those students from dropping out of high school. This is quite true, but the arts can and should do more in all classrooms, for all students.

In any public school classroom, teachers are presented with students with a wide range of interests, challenges and skill levels. Teachers are expected to "differentiate" within their often-crowded classrooms, to reach each student at his/her starting point and to grow their skill level. This is not an easy task, but a wonderful tool for teachers is incorporation of the arts into the thread of any subject. For those for whom English is a new language, and for students who speak the language but whose families and communities are steeped in another country's culture, the arts offer a universal point of reference through which teacher, student and classroom peers can meet. For students in need of special education services, the arts offer a tool other than books, papers and standardized tests to demonstrate learning growth and mastery. For students needing an extra challenge beyond grade-level curriculum, the arts offer the ability to broaden and deepen the exploration of any single subject. For students troubled by social, emotional or mental health issues, the arts offer a wonderful method of communication with peers and with teachers.

In short, weaving the arts into the daily classroom allows teachers to dramatically increase the chances of success in having all students meet what I believe should be the core goal of our schools...to produce enthusiastic lifelong learners, armed with creative approaches to working through the complicated issues of being a productive, thoughtful citizen of the 21st century.

Emerging from school with creative problem-solving approaches also means our students will be eminently employable in their adult lives. Jobs that do not require out-of-the-box thinking are increasingly being commoditized - heavily scripted, attached to low wages, and outsourced to far-flung regions of the globe. Creativity and creative problem solving cannot be commoditized...and therefore offer a path to stable, fairly-paid employment.
3. The arts are defined as a core subject in the state definition of basic education, but the reality is that many schools are not providing adequate arts instruction.* What do you see as the School Board's role in ensuring the equitable provision of sequential, standards-based arts instruction to all Seattle students?
This issue is personally important to me. I send my children to TOPS K-8, in part because it has a commitment to a strong in-school and extracurricular arts program. I see the Board's role in 3 parts...

1)...to advocate at the state level for more adequate funding of K-12 education and to advocate for including instruction in the arts as a fundamental piece of "basic education" funding at every K-12 grade level. The term "STEM" (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) is sometimes used as shorthand for the areas we need to concentrate school improvements to produce students ready for the 21st century. But there is a movement to change STEM to "STEAM" (A for Arts) and I believe this is the more correct approach to improving baseline offerings in all of our classrooms.

2)...given the current shortage of funding, to work within our District to connect community organizations and individuals to schools in need of arts enrichment. Seattle has a vibrant arts community, but Seattle Public Schools does not do enough from a central, programmatic perspective to link the education and arts communities. Some schools are able to do so via active parent groups, but unfortunately, the same schools who lack active PTSA or equivalent groups, and their fundraising capabilities, are the same schools in most need of opportunities to make arts a part of the classroom. There are some great community organizations such as Powerful Schools who are focused on providing this programming to schools with high levels of poverty amongst a student body. The Board can provide a crucial community-school bridge to be sure all schools have the potential to find a person or organization excited to work with them. The District does have an internal, administrative person focused on "community partnerships" but with an overwhelming amount of project and process work to be done, the issue needs more assistance from the governing body to deliver services more widely and effectively.

3)...in addition to #2, which might best be handled in work in the Board's Curriculum & Instruction and Operations Committees, the Board can use its bully pulpit to keep the need for arts instruction top of mind in the school community and with the larger Seattle community. This can and should happen during general Board meetings and in the members' individual community meetings and personal relationships.
4. If elected or re-elected, how will you help the School Board lead engagement of the greater community (including administrators, classroom teachers, arts specialists, students, families, artists, and community arts organizations) to help inform the education conversation and shape school board policy for arts education?
I believe the Seattle School Board should add to its "governance and oversight" duties the obligation to be visionary leaders of Seattle's K-12 conversation via explicit actions. For instance, I envision the board leading an annual series of "summits" - and inviting innovative community leaders as well as parents as students - to set a course for important education issues...and expanding arts in the classroom is one of those issues.

Secondly, I believe the Board needs to push much more strongly for an initiative I have been talking about for years...and which the Board is now calling Program Parity. For 20 years I have noticed a lack of cohesive, forward-thinking roadmapping of where programs are placed in this District. With parents and caregivers focused on earning a living, and with complications of geography and traffic plus lack of District bus resources, it is imperative that the District provide similar access to innovative K-12 programming in all areas of the city. This includes advanced learning programs, language immersion and - yes - the arts. Our new student assignment plan, which largely sent children back to neighborhood schools, should never have been adopted without this plan. (The current Board has heard my advocacy, and that of other parents, and has just adopted Program Parity as a priority for the coming school year.)

Finally, we need a central resource - most probably the District website - to have access to Best Practices in the classroom around the arts (and science, math, etc...) I envision a central site where teachers and community volunteers can share these best practices and resourcing ideas across grade levels and topics. (1st grade dance, 8th grade orchestra, etc.) I look to my own children's experience, where each year's highlight centers around the incorporation of class curriculum into an arts effort...a 90-minute kid-produced shadow puppet show in kindergarten...performance of a Shakespeare play in 3rd grade...etc. Posting these types of ideas, and the planning/resourcing needed for them, could provide the necessary spark for a teacher or parent at a different school to build a new arts initiative in that community. This type of a database/online project would be carried out by District administrators, but it is the Board who needs to steward new initiatives.
*Statewide data shows that 33% of elementary students are getting less than a hour of arts instruction per week and 47% of schools offer instruction in only one of the four primary arts disciplines). Source: Washington State Arts Commission, Arts Education Research Initiative 2009

District 6

Incumbent Steve Sundquist, board president, retired executive with Russell Investment Group and a developer of the International Baccalaureate Program at Chief Sealth High School is being challenged by Marty McLaren, a retired preschool, middle- and high-school math and substitute teacher and current part-time test administrator for the South Seattle Community College's Student Assessment Office.

Steve Sundquist (incumbent)
1. What meaningful experiences in the arts (dance, music, theater, and visual arts) did you have growing up? Why do you remember these?
I had a number of opportunities and experiences in the arts growing up. My most significant was learning to play the piano, which I pursued for five years through middle school. I remember the recitals, and also the fun and inspiration of acquiring enough skills to be able to play interesting contemporary pieces. I also took ballet in college, and came away with a great respect for the combination of strength, flexibility, athleticism, and artistry needed to be successful. I also remember a few of the school field trips we took to see symphonies and plays. My piano and ballet experiences are memorable because they took me out of my comfort zone, and because they instilled a lifelong appreciation of instrumental music and dance. I was also a strong student in math, and I'm sure that the music training helped a great deal with that as well. Finally, although the number of school field trips to see theatre and symphony was small, I retained an interest in these art forms, and they have been a continuing source of interest for my wife and I through our adult years.
2. What role do you think the arts can play in supporting key education priorities such as closing the opportunity gap, reducing the dropout rate, and preparing more students for college eligibility and the creativity needed in the 21st century workforce?
The research is clear that arts education and involvement has a very positive impact on students, from improving overall academic performance, to reducing truancy, raising graduation rates, and increasing creativity. Arts education helps to develop skills in communication and collaboration, and supports different learning styles that enhance conceptual understanding in all subjects, including math and science. For many students, it increases engagement in education and keeps them in school. I believe we need to expand arts education in Seattle, and believe we have a broad consensus in our city about this policy direction. The bigger challenge with our local arts education program will be in eliminating the huge gaps and inequities in opportunity and practice.
3. The arts are defined as a core subject in the state definition of basic education, but the reality is that many schools are not providing adequate arts instruction.* What do you see as the School Board's role in ensuring the equitable provision of sequential, standards-based arts instruction to all Seattle students?
The school board has several important roles to play. First, we must be advocates for an expansion of arts instruction in our schools. Since we have standards across many subjects that our students must meet, this advocacy should be about the importance of arts education, and also about the need to lengthen our learning day and learning year so that we can meet the needs of our students in all of the subjects we define as being part of a basic education. The school board also needs to be a public advocate for equity of opportunity on behalf of all our kids in allocating the arts resources that we have. We can also help to acquire more resources by assisting with grant requests and helping to bring more community partners to the table. As an example, I played a supportive role with the district's Wallace Foundation grant application when called on by district leaders to help secure and retain that large planning grant. Finally, we need to ensure that the district creates a plan to provide sequential, standards-based arts instruction to all of our students, and then successfully implements that plan across the district. While our Wallace Foundation planning grant and the contributions of our many community partners will be critical to that effort, only the school board can institutionally ensure that a high-quality plan is created and then effectively implemented.
4. If elected or re-elected, how will you help the School Board lead engagement of the greater community (including administrators, classroom teachers, arts specialists, students, families, artists, and community arts organizations) to help inform the education conversation and shape school board policy for arts education?
I have been elected to officer leadership positions (either VP or President) by my peer directors on the school board for three years running. They have looked to me to help build consensus on a variety of policy issues, and to steer the organization through difficult periods like our winter termination of the Superintendent and Chief Financial Officer. I am respected as a thoughtful voice for education reform, and for focusing the district's systemic changes to ensure that they improve the opportunities and outcomes for all of Seattle's students. I am known and respected by many legislative leaders in Olympia and Seattle's City Hall, and by many community-based organizations that work with Seattle Public Schools. My work as a lead partner at Social Venture Partners and my relationships with key leaders at the Seattle Foundation have also helped me to build credibility with the philanthropic community. Finally, I enjoy strong relationships with senior staff leaders of SPS, including Carri Campbell, Courtney Cameron and Dr. Susan Enfield, and with leaders in many public education policy and advocacy groups. My network of relationships and responsibilities positions me well to play a leadership role in engaging the greater community in the education conversation to come, and to shape Seattle's policy for arts education going forward.
*Statewide data shows that 33% of elementary students are getting less than a hour of arts instruction per week and 47% of schools offer instruction in only one of the four primary arts disciplines). Source: Washington State Arts Commission, Arts Education Research Initiative 2009
Marty McLaren
1. What meaningful experiences in the arts (dance, music, theater, and visual arts) did you have growing up? Why do you remember these?
I grew up in a home with lots of music being played - radio, recorded, television. We danced a lot, also were encouraged to make art - drawing, painting, crafts. My love of arts and music came from these experiences and has grown over my life.

In my public school education, both in California and Washington state, this interest was nurtured and developed through art classes, dance in PE, dramatic productions, and choral and instrumental music.
2. What role do you think the arts can play in supporting key education priorities such as closing the opportunity gap, reducing the dropout rate, and preparing more students for college eligibility and the creativity needed in the 21st century workforce?
I believe arts education is imperative - it helps transmit the intangible psychological, emotional, and cultural values of beauty, joy in expression and appreciation, sharing, and, of course, creativity. It is an important venue for transmission of other shared values as well. Ellen Dissanayake has written extensively on the meaning and value of art, and she sums up by saying, , "Art makes things special." This simple statement speaks volumes to the importance of art in our lives.

Arts education can color and enliven education in unimagined ways. Classrooms or schools without the arts becomes stark and arid... Arts education motivates students with the joy of learning and teachers with the joy of teaching... it is often the motivation for students staying in school and can condition students to strive enthusiastically for high achievement and excellence in many areas.
3. The arts are defined as a core subject in the state definition of basic education, but the reality is that many schools are not providing adequate arts instruction.* What do you see as the School Board's role in ensuring the equitable provision of sequential, standards-based arts instruction to all Seattle students?
I believe the school board must be receptive to parents' desire for a return to arts to our schools' curriculum, and must make this part of our vision for the future. The board simply must embrace and further our inclusion of this component of a well-rounded education.

The most important deficiencies in the School Board's record that I wish to tackle come from its disregard of community values in crafting a vision and its rejection of meaningful community participation and vetting of policy, fiscal oversight, etc. Through authentic community engagement, a whole host of failures in our school system can begin to be addressed, not the least of which is the importance of the arts, in myriad formats.

I also firmly believe there must be a long-term effort on the part of us education and arts advocates to inform and galvanize voters about the importance of arts education to our students. Voters must step up to fund it. I think most voters intuitively know, but need to be reminded, that arts education is vital to students' fulfillment and success in their unfolding participation in society.
4. If elected or re-elected, how will you help the School Board lead engagement of the greater community (including administrators, classroom teachers, arts specialists, students, families, artists, and community arts organizations) to help inform the education conversation and shape school board policy for arts education?
It's a two way process: On the one hand, I would take advantage of every opportunity to highlight the importance of arts education and raise awareness of its absence in our schools. On the other hand, I would respond with alacrity to community demand for more arts education in our schools, helping to connect groups and communities to find ways to include arts in our curricula.

Because so many artists and members of the community are eager to spread the arts to all students, there's fertile ground for cultivating more arts activity, for example, through Arts Corps and many other organizations and projects. Community awareness and engagement are key, and I hope to work for more of both.
*Statewide data shows that 33% of elementary students are getting less than a hour of arts instruction per week and 47% of schools offer instruction in only one of the four primary arts disciplines). Source: Washington State Arts Commission, Arts Education Research Initiative 2009



Candidate survey developed in partnership with: