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Want to Transform 'Tough' Urban Schools? Swap Security Guards For Art Teachers

Student achievement soars with the arts.


Spend some time in the average school in a low income urban neighborhood and between the security guards, armed police, and metal detectors, you'll understand why students, parents, teachers, community activists, and academic researchers say black and Latino kids are being being better prepared for incarceration than college. The ubiquity of law enforcement in city schools makes the decision by Andrew Bott, principal at Orchard Gardens Pilot School in Boston's Roxbury neighborhood, to fire all his school's security guards and replace them with art teachers, all the more inspiring.

That decision, which Bott made in his first year as the school's principal, has paid off for the students. Three years later the campus, which serves a student population that's 90 percent low income has higher attendance, fewer behavior issues, and academic achievement has soared. They've also been chosen as one of eight schools the Obama Administration's pouring $2 million dollars into to boost arts education.

Rachel Goslins from the President's Committee on the Arts says they've found "low income kids who engage in the arts are three times more likely to have high attendance records and four times more likely to be involved in a student club or student government." They're also more likely to get good grades and go on to college. Orchard Gardens was recently featured in the BBC's series "The Power of Art" and as you can see in the above video, the school is now infused with creativity and the kids are thriving—which begs the question, why aren't we getting these programs into every school?

Click here to add volunteering at your local 826 creative writing center to your GOOD "to-do" list.

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