Federal grant to fund arts education research
Schools will measure the level of benefits students get from balanced programs
Hawaii will become one of only four states to receive a U.S. Department of Education grant to study the effects of arts education.
The $1.1 million grant, to be doled out over four years, will be spent in four Hawaii schools to scrutinize the educational benefits of a balanced arts program. Scholars at the University of Hawaii will be involved in collecting and interpreting the data.
The grant was "earned." It is not a gift, U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, said yesterday at an outdoor news conference at Kuhio Elementary School.
"Hawaii's system was in competition with all the other states. We won it. We got it because the merits were here in the first place," he said.
The Hawaii version of the project has been dubbed Arts and Literacy for All, or ALA, and more than one speaker observed that "ala" is also Hawaiian for path or road, or awaken and renew.
"Our model is one that the Department of Education thinks could be used throughout the nation," said Gail Mukaihata Hannemann, of the Hawaii Arts Alliance board. "It's not just the grant itself, but what it says about education in Hawaii."
The grant will be given to Arts First Hawaii, a consortium of organizations including the Hawaii Arts Alliance, DOE, University of Hawaii College of Education, UH College of Arts and Humanities, Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, and Hawaii Association of Independent Schools.
"This is born of a vision to bring quality arts education to every classroom in Hawaii, and that's a tall order," said Marilyn Cristofori, of Hawaii Arts Alliance. She said the four schools in the project will be chosen at random.
UH President David McClain recalled that when he was dean of the business school, he studied the rigors of entrepreneurship and marveled "at the kinds of risks artists take. From the university's standpoint, the kind of skills taught through the arts are essential in life."