Tag Archives: No Child Left Behind

Every Student Succeeds…and Arts Education Helps

I’ve been fortunate to have had many wonderful teachers in my life, including Joe Marrella, who produced one of the most influential shows I participated in – a production of Mary Zimmerman’s Metamorphoses. I still remember it fondly almost a decade later, because it was not just a high school theater show. Marrella challenged us to dig deeper into our characters, to see real life, current events connections to the play’s themes of love and greed that are universal. Yes, it was the arts, but it taught me that dramaturgy – really in depth research (the likes of which are done in any profession from journalism to opera to the scientific fields) – is vital to a successful performance.

I received an even greater sense of the importance of the arts in education when I started working as a journalist for LA Opera, just in time for Opera Camp. Today’s headlines are filled with stories of inequality, injustice and hate. Understanding our role in changing the world can be daunting. Through our annual Opera Camp program, LA Opera not only gives kids 9-17 the experience of staging an operatic performance, but also connects campers to the past and to today’s toughest issues. It brings context to headlines and shows them their impact on the world. (This past summer, campers got to visit the Japan-America National Museum, while working on The White Bird of Poston, an opera set in a WWWII Japanese internment camp.)

2015 Opera Campers Rehearsing "Then I Stood Up: A Civil Rights Cycle"

2015 Opera Campers Rehearsing Then I Stood Up: A Civil Rights Cycle

This further proved to me (and to those involved) that the arts are vital to raising well-rounded, socially conscious children.


That’s a word that sticks out to me, particularly in light of President Obama’s signing of a New Education Bill, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). It aims to provide all elementary and secondary students with fair and equal opportunities to achieve a high quality education, and these provisions for arts education will ensure that all students, including those in high poverty schools, have the opportunity to access arts education. This replaces the current national educational law, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), previously known as “No Child Left Behind.”

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