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Goode and Jones Receive Hero Capes for Support of Education and Arts in Schools

June 06, 2013, Philadelphia, PA – At 9:30 AM on June 6, students, parents and advocates gathered at City Council for a show of creativity in support of public education and keeping arts and music in Philadelphia schools, and to present Concilpersons Curtis Jones, Jr. and W. Wilson Goode, Jr. with Arts Education Superhero capes for their outspoken support for keeping arts and music education in Philadelphia’s public schools.

The event was hosted by a coalition of arts and education supporters, parents and school staff that includes Public Citizens for Children and Youth, ArtsRising (an initiative of the Philadelphia Education Fund) and the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance’s GroundSwell movement.

The event started out with a musical performance by Ismail Yusef-Ali Abdus-Salaam, a graduate of School of the Future which I located in Councilman Goode’s district.  That was followed by a poem recital from Saleem Smith a sixth grader at Lewis C. Cassidy Academics Plus School, which is located in the Overbrook neighborhood of Philadelphia.  A Claymation video about the importance of arts education in schools was projected for the audience and councilmen to watch. The animation was made by Samantha Ashok, a senior at the Julia R. Masterman Laboratory and Demonstration School and an intern for the Clay Studio.

The two City Councilpersons were then presented with their superhero capes. Councilman Goode is being honored for his support for a proposal to increase the Use & Occupancy tax that is expected to generate between $32 million and $72 million, mostly for public education.  Councilman Jones was being thanked for his outspoken commitment  to voting for full funding for public schools.  He has also taken a leading role in rallying his fellow councilmembers to take action to save arts education.

Folders with letters from public school students from the Edmunds, Catharine and Cassidy schools about the importance of instrumental music and arts, letters from community members,  and DVDs of the Arts Ed Superhero video and arts advocacy videos made by Cassidy students were also presented to both Goode and Jones.  A large print calendar of the “Faces and Places of Overbrook”, made by Overbrook Elementary students, was also presented to Jones.

The Pennsylvania state education budget is in crisis, having been cut by $1 billion since 2010. Locally, the cuts have financially distressed the School District of Philadelphia, which has asked City Council in its FY 2014 budget to provide an additional $60 million to schools.

Without this additional funding, concessions from the unions and an additional $120 million from state legislature, Philadelphia public schools will be left with a bare bones budget, cutting instrumental music, art and music teachers, sports teams, nurses, secretaries, extracurriculars, and more.

“My school will not be able to open its doors,” said Leslie Mason, principal of Mifflin School. Arts education is the key to keeping students engaged in school, making learning matter, and preparing students for 21st century careers. Without strong school arts programs, the strong arts organizations and businesses that are the underpinning of the city’s creative economy are also at risk.