Unleash Creativity for Public School Kids

Laurie Pitman of Arts for Oakland Kids wants you to know why arts education in public schools is such a good thing.


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Artwork by Eden, Janine and Jim (CC).

Oaklander Laurie Pitman taught music in public schools and believes strongly in public education. Today she serves as president of the board of Arts for Oakland Kids, known for almost 20 years as Oakland Fund for the Arts. The nonprofit, established in 1996, has given about $500,000 in funding to 137 arts programs reaching 17,000 kids in Oakland public schools. Most of those schools, Pitman said, are west of Interstate 580, serving a majority of children who are bilingual, poor, and of color.

“Every child should have a chance to have arts education in public school, from transitional kindergarten to 12th grade,” Pitman said. And she means all arts, from painting murals and writing poetry to doing Brazilian dance and playing drums, with each child extended an opportunity to explore his or her creative self.

“Bringing a child a new creative outlet helps kids master new skills,” she said, citing federal educational research studies that indicate youngsters exposed to music and others arts education early on in public schools do better in school—and get a leg up on life successes.

“Cutting money in public schools for arts education is very shortsighted,” she said.

There is something the public can do: Make arts education in public schools a priority and be aware, Pitman said. Vote for school board candidates and other local, state, and federal government office seekers who are conscious about arts education funding.

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