Your statement on the arts (any word length):
Art brings truth, power, and love to all spaces.
Describe a meaningful arts experience that has stayed with you over time.
I went to Cuba this past summer and had the opportunity to learn how to dance and make art with local artists. The artists who taught me how to make screen prints were very honest, talented, and passionate about their work. They told me how difficult it was for them to make art with the current government’s policies and restrictions. Making art in Cuba can be life-threatening, and if someone challenges the government with their medium, it puts others at risk as well. Meeting these artists put certain privileges I have in the U.S. into perspective. For example, I can easily access and purchase art supplies and can organize a creative group of people for a cause without fear of torture. Their access to art supplies is limited and very expensive. They resort to a fellow artist obtaining a visa to travel to Florida and bring back as many supplies as possible. Another alternative is using supplies like newspaper ink for prints and gasoline to clean their materials off. Artists in Cuba are challenging a single way of thinking, building community, and thriving. I’m very grateful for their insights and the opportunity to make art together.
What policies and action steps do you plan to take to enact the Seattle Public School’s strategic plan that centers “students of color who are furthest from educational justice” in accessing arts education?
Seattle schools face the 5th largest opportunity gap in the nation – this is unacceptable, and we must be doing better by our students. Part of my work at the University of Washington included research on Seattle Public Schools’ racial equity teams. Based on that experience, I think there are numerous inroads we could make in our student programming to include more opportunities for arts programming. We know that creative expression is one avenue for healthy child development, and our schools should be fostering these opportunities for everyone. We cannot provide these opportunities to our students if they are not in the classroom. One of my biggest priorities is to mandate the removal of suspensions and expulsions from early education and provide more mental health resources and Restorative Justice solutions to discipline infractions. We also need to provide more ethnic studies courses, as well as more after-school opportunities that serve low-income students, queer students, and students of color. After school programs need to include more opportunities for arts education and other ways for underserved students to be more involved and engaged in the arts.
What do you believe is the value of sequential arts education in Seattle Public Schools?
Sequential arts in public schools provide equitable access and experience for all families of various racial and economic backgrounds. It allows kids to connect, discover, and experience a variety of possibilities opening up new worlds. We need the arts in schools to make sure kids learn there are multiple ways to answer one question, that there is no risk in taking a creative approach. We build childrens’ confidence when we allow them to step outside of the classroom and experience learning through art projects.
What is your plan to support the Creative Advantage and the vision that all Seattle students have access to quality arts time during the school day?
We know that access to art courses throughout a K-12 education produces students more prepared for success in their adult lives. I would work closely with the Creative Advantage. My past research and experience with public schools helps me to understand the importance of community partnerships, and expanding arts programs is no different.
- I’m dedicated to on the ground, frontline work meeting with principals and talking to PTA members and teachers to discuss better ways for teachers and artists to connect with classrooms. I will work closely with selected Creative Advantage schools in my district to make sure they feel supported. I have visited Creative Advantage organizations like Coyote Central and will continue to build relationships and visit school sites. It’s important to know what the Creative Advantage is like on the front lines and find ways to stay involved, attending workshops, and the Creative Advantage training institute as well .
- I can increase awareness and promote the opportunities offered by Creative Advantage. We can promote the stipends and the equity work being done that are associated with these trainings through my public platform. We can build more public attention around the resources that creative advantage offers our schools. We can promote arts integration in schools i.e. STEAM fairs.
- I will continue to advocate for arts funding and speak up about the disadvantages and disportionate effects on students of color and poor schools.
What do you believe to be the future of creative careers in Seattle? How can Seattle Public Schools better prepare young people, especially those who are furthest away from educational justice, to enter the creative economy?
Seattle has a thriving arts culture, everything from our city’s strong investments in public art, to our robust community of art galleries and performance venues, and more. There are many opportunities for students to continue their arts experience via potential internships, apprenticeships, and future careers. It’s important to connect schools with community resources that offer creative experiences. SPS can be doing more to create community partnerships that focus on these creative endeavors. My community can expect me to attend art shows, and hear what people and teachers have to say regarding this topic. Additionally, we should ensure that high schools are including art institutes and universities with strong arts programs when they provide college prep opportunities. Not every child needs a traditional 4-year degree to succeed in life, so we should be actively encouraging these students to find the right opportunity for them.