Tony Bennett is one our country’s most important spokesmen for the value of an arts education for public school students. One of his most important accomplishments is the Exploring The Arts Foundation, founded by Mr. Bennett and his wife, Susan Benedetto. The foundation created the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Astoria, NY and now in the process of creating partner schools in Los Angeles. You can read more about the programs in Los Angeles here. The Exploring the Arts website can be found here.
In his recent book, Life is a Gift, Mr. Bennett makes this observation:
Studies have shown that students with high arts involvement perform better in school, do more community service activities, and have higher graduation rates, so it’s very important for kids to be involved in the arts–from drama, dance, vocals and instrumental music to film and fine arts.
Over the years, we have had some of the highest graduation rates and percentages of kids going off to college–not only by New York City standards, but nationwide, with an average graduation rate of 95 percent and 85 percent going on to a four-year college.
This has recently been proven at a K-8 school in Roxbury, Massachusetts. Originally planned as an arts school, instead the instruments were locked up and the school experienced violence and problems from the beginning; by 2010 it ranked in the bottom five of all public schools in the state of Massachusetts.
And then a new principal — the sixth principal in seven years — fired all the security guards and hired arts teachers instead.
His success was remarkable: within three years the school has experienced a complete turnaround. You can read the details of this amazing transformation on the NBC News website. The video at the end of the story is from tonight’s NBC Nightly News.
The Year of Tony Bennett supports Exploring the Arts and we hope that you will consider supporting this organization as well.