Hawaii joins national Turnaround Arts initiative


Musicians Jack Johnson and Jake Shimabukuru, and actress Alfre Woodard will work with Kalihi Kai Elementary, Kamaile Academy and Waianae Elementary as Turnaround Artists. The program has helped improve academic outcomes in participating schools through intensive arts education.

​​​​​​​​WASHINGTON, D.C. – The President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) will expand its successful Turnaround Arts initiative into five additional school districts, including three schools in Hawaii, as the program continues to successfully help turn around low-performing schools, narrow the achievement gap and increase student engagement through the arts, the committee's co-chairs, George Stevens Jr. and Margo Lion, announced today. This follows last year's major expansion of the program after a Booz Allen Hamilton evaluation of the program's effectiveness.

Turnaround Arts now reaches over 22,000 of the country's highest-needs students in 49 schools in 14 states and the District of Columbia. The Committee also announced that Turnaround Artists Jack Johnson, Jake Shimabukuro and Alfre Woodard will "adopt" Hawaii Turnaround Arts schools and work directly with students and teachers to support their arts education.​​

The newly expanded program is funded through a public-private partnership, receiving over $5 million over the next three years from the U.S. Department of Education, the National Endowment of the Arts, the Ford Foundation and other private foundations and companies to bring arts education into low-performing schools. The program leverages approximately an additional $10 million contributed in local funds over the same period. The money will be used to hire new arts and music teachers; bring teaching artists, art supplies and music instruments into schools; and support arts integration with other core subjects such as reading, math and science.​

Additionally, the President's Committee announced a number of new "Turnaround Artists​" who will work to support individual schools' arts education goals: Bernie Williams, Cameron Diaz, Carla Dirlikov, David Blaine, Jack Johnson, Macy Gray, Mike McCready (Pearl Jam), Misty Copeland, Paula Abdul, Thom Mayne, Jake Shimabukuro, and Tracy Reese. These artists will join Chad Smith, Clarence Greenwood (aka Citizen Cope), Doc Shaw, Elizabeth Banks, Elton John, Frank Gehry, Jason Mraz, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Josh Groban, Marc Anthony, Rashida Jones, Russell Simmons, the Silk Road Ensemble, Tim Robbins, and Troy Andrews (aka Trombone Shorty) in adopting Turnaround Arts schools. PCAH members and artists who have been working with the program since its inception include Alfre Woodard, Chuck Close, Damian Woetzel, Forest Whitaker, John Lloyd Young, Kal Penn, Kerry James Marshall, Kerry Washington, Edward Norton, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Yo-Yo Ma.

"We are proud that the progress at all our existing Turnaround Arts schools has made it possible for us to expand into even more schools and states," said PCAH Vice-Chair and President-elect, Spelman College, Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D. "We continue to demonstrate that high quality arts education positively changes young lives and turns around failing schools, thanks to the hard work of our public and private funders, artists, program partners and school educators."

In Hawaii, the Hawaii State Department of Education and the Hawaii Arts Alliance will be the local program partners for Turnaround Arts. Schools selected for the Turnaround Arts Hawaii program include Kalihi Kai Elementary School, Kamaile Academy, and Waianae Elementary School. Selected schools will receive arts education training and resources to address their individual needs, including teacher training, arts supplies, music instruments, and funding for partnerships with community arts education and cultural organizations. High-profile artists will also "adopt" Turnaround Arts schools for the length of the program, working with students, schools and communities to highlight their success. 

"We're thrilled that Hawaii has been selected for this prestigious program," said Governor David Ige. "Participation in arts programs gives students focus, self-confidence and a pathway to self-discovery. This program will ensure that more of Hawai'i's youth can participate in these life-changing experiences."

"My love of music started as a kid strumming the ukulele in an elementary classroom," said singer-songwriter Jack Johnson. "By serving as a Turnaround Artist for Hawai'i, I'm excited to bring music and ideas to the students of Kamaile Academy and Waianae Elementary School. I hope to inspire the kids to dream big and help to create an environment of joy and possibility in their classrooms."

"It is an honor and privilege to support arts in education," said ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro. "At the age of four, I was fortunate to have my mother as my first music teacher, sparking my lifelong passion for the ukulele. Sadly, many students in America don't have access to any form of art in their schools. I hope to turn this around by joining the ranks of Turnaround Artists and help serve the students at Kalihi Kai elementary school."

"My work with Turnaround Arts has been tremendously rewarding," said actress Alfre Woodard. "I've loved every moment of getting to know these deserving kids and their dedicated teachers and principals. All you have to do is walk in to one of our schools and you can see, hear, and feel the transformation taking place. . .the positive energy in the halls, the focus of the teachers and the students in class, the light in a kid's face as he or she finds his or her voice. This sense of purpose is what is turning these schools around. I am honored to be part of it as the program expands to Hawaii!"

In May 2012, the President's Committee, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education and the White House Domestic Policy Council, launched Turnaround Arts as a pilot program in eight "turnaround schools" across the country—public schools in the lowest-achieving five percent of their state that were receiving School Improvement Grants through the U.S. Department of Education. Over the last three years, Turnaround Arts has brought intensive arts education resources and expertise into 35 schools and worked with school leadership to incorporate the arts as part of their reform strategy.

Research evaluation results show that participating schools are demonstrating improved academic performance, increased student and parent engagement, and improved culture and climate. On average, Turnaround Arts schools showed a 23 percent improvement in math proficiency and a 13 percent increase in reading proficiency over three years, as well as showing reductions of up to 86 percent in student disciplinary issues and sharply increased attendance.

"We are excited to bring in more local artists into our schools and grateful to join the Turnaround Arts initiative," said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. "Integrating arts across subjects is a hallmark of the Hawaii Common Core standards. This partnership will support our teachers and broaden opportunities for students to explore art while developing important life skills such as creativity, collaboration and perseverance."

All schools participating in Turnaround Arts will receive training and resources to address their individual needs. Resources will include a summer leadership program, in-school professional development, partnerships with community arts education and cultural organizations, art supplies, and musical instruments. Participating artists will "adopt" Turnaround Arts schools for the length of the program, working with students, schools and communities to highlight their success.

National partners in Turnaround Arts include the U.S. Department of Education, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ford Foundation, the Herb Alpert Foundation, the Rosenthal Family Foundation, the Keith Haring Foundation, the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Foundation, Crayola LLC, the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation, and Music Theatre International. New partners to the program include AOL, Little Kids Rock, and JCPenney. The program is administered in partnership with Americans for the Arts.

Participating schools were competitively selected by program partners according to national guidelines. Selection criteria included demonstrated need and opportunity, strong school leadership with district support, and a commitment to arts education. Turnaround Arts schools represent elementary and middle schools from across the country and encompass a diversity of student demographics in urban and rural settings.


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