by Patricia Frischer
I was invited to attend a community organization information meeting by the Visual and Performing Arts Department (VAPA) for San Diego Unified School District this month and found out several interesting things from the director Russ Sperling and program manager Tim Benson.
A year is a long time during a pandemic and last year was declared the Freedom Summer to focus on eliminating those barriers that prevent our students of color from receiving an equitable education. One great result was the delivery of 60,000 devices to aid online studies for every student in need. Communication within the organization was strengthened and VAPA liaison were created for schools in the system. In fact, the district art show with be online this year and we are looking forward to seeing that listed on SDVAN. Up until now, it was only easily available to view on the opening night.
There is a big concentration on Title One schools with the goal expanded from higher student achievement to include increased student and family engagement and a positive school climate. The pandemic and online learning has made it more important than ever to remove non-standard criteria like attendance and deportment when assessing students.
This is a new strategic plan underway to be announced soon for 2021-2026. It was good to hear that San Diego’s creative community is a large collective resource with greater potential to augment the District’s VAPA program. A Gap Analysis has been started to try to see what schools and programs are falling through the cracks. But so far that does not include organizations outside of the schools that supply arts programs. Yes, there is a whole system of substitute teachers and art teachers which are hired to teach the arts, but many programs that works with schools are not yet documented like the Art Reach mural projects and ArtBusXpress virtual programs.
One challenge to these community organizations is the need to create contracts which adhere to the strict school district requirements. VAPA can step in and help organizations that are ready to present their Superpowered ideas for proven programs. Blanca Lucia Bergman from Arts Unites has been teaching youngster how to present their art in exhibitions with lesson than include math, marketing and communication skills. That is a superpower that most adult artists would like to have.
VAPA foresees the need for 80 arts teachers to be hired when schools come back full strength for in person teaching. The Arts Education Project (AEP), is hiring for the fall of 2021 and the online application is now open Apply at Arts Education Project Application. The minimum credential required for this position is a California 30 Day Substitute Teaching Permit.