Schools & Arts Together Ballot Measure

Stage and Studio
program date: 
Tue, 09/25/2012

 Oregon has historically been at the bottom for arts funding, and there's an arts crisis going on throughout Oregon schools. The School & Arts Together initiative aims to provide arts education and access to Portland's school-age children. Dmae Roberts talks with Jessica Jarratt Miller, the executive director of the Creative Advocacy Network (CAN) that has championed a new ballot measure for art education. 

The Creative Advocacy Network is sponsoring Ballot Measure 26-146 in November for an arts tax of $35 per Portland wage earner above the federal poverty line. The plan is to raise $12 million a year to hire arts teachers in Portland elementary schools and to give the Regional Arts and Culture Council funding to disperse for arts access to school-age children.

What is the impact for Portland youth? How will the revenue be administered? What's the affect for low-income and retired or fixed-income individuals? What is the challenge in passing this measure at the time of high unemployment and in competition with libraries and school funding measures? And why have we come to this all-time low point with arts education in the schools?

Background: For the last three years, CAN has conducted research on the steep declines of arts education access for Portland's elementary and secondary school age children. What they've found is that in the last five years,  Parkrose and Centennial School Districts have cut their art and music teaching staff by half. Portland Public Schools has dropped all arts instruction in 22 schools in just two years.

When compared with other major cities in the country, Portland ranks at an all-time low for arts education. A U.S. Department of Education report in April showed :

  • In 2011, 18% of Portland elementary schools provide art instruction compared to 83% nationally.
  • 58% of Portland elementary schools provide music instruction compared to 94% nationally.
  • 28% of all Portland schools provide no arts instruction of any kind including music, drama, dance or visual arts, compared to 3% of schools nationally.
  • 11,596 Portland children attending schools do not have any art, dance, drama, or music instruction.

Jessica Jarratt Miller joined the Creative Advocacy Network with 18 years of experience as a fundraiser and non-profit leader.  Through the years, Jessica has structured and grown non-profit organizations, established successful public/private partnerships and launched vital new programs in Oregon, Washington, California and Washington D.C.  She has also secured more than $35 million in funding for education, arts and culture, the environment, social services and civil rights.


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