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The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers is a union of professionals that champions fairness; democracy; economic opportunity; and high-quality public education, healthcare, and public services for our students, their families and our communities. We are committed to advancing these principles through community engagement, organizing, collective bargaining and political activism, and especially through the work our members do.

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67 8th Ave NE

Minneapolis, MN

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As the MPS works to fulfill the promise of providing for all students an "inspirational education," we must support that promise by fully funding not only core academic subjects such as math, language arts, social studies, and science, but also the courses we know help students grow socially, academically, emotionally, and creatively -- courses such as music, arts, dance, phys ed, and family and consumer sciences. 

Art, Music, Physical Education, and Media

Funding arts classes is an urgent and ongoing need

We are in immediate need of money to buy a larger backdrop for taking photos for digital portfolios for AP Studio art. We have one which allowed excellent professional photos that helped our students scores and increased scholarships due to professional looking digital portfolios. I am writing to ask for monetary support for the arts program here at South High School. However I know that all of the High School art programs are in the same situation. We need consumable supplies every year. We can’t teach without these. We serve the most diverse population of any department. We have especially high numbers of Special education and ELL students because we are able to meet a wide variety of needs and abilities and schools depend on us to do so. Besides the PE & Health Dept, I believe that we have the highest numbers of students, sometimes having up to 45 in a classroom at one time. Usual class sizes run around 33, that means with 5 class periods in a day and with a change of students at the semester break we teach around 330 students a year. With 3 teacher in the art dept.that is at least 990 students per year. Drawing paper alone cost us around $2,000 a year. In total, the supplies needed to teach effectively cost about $8-10,000. We teach: Painting which requires, acrylic brushes, watercolor paint, inks, acrylic paint, watercolor paint, watercolor brushes, watercolor paper, acrylic paint brush cleaner Ceramics: Clay & glazes Drawing: Paper, drawing pencils, erasers, inks, colored pencils, Sculpture: plaster, wire, hot glue sticks, face masks, non-latex gloves, tool kits, soap bars, wax, embossing tin, spray paint, wood*, masonite* Advanced Art & AP Studio Art: sketchbooks, acrylic paint, individual sets of paint brushes, Canvas boards, pre cut mats, sculpture supplies, Basic supplies: Tape (masking, clear, packing), glue sticks, ziploc bags, pencils, erasers, thumbtacks, Other Supplies: facial tissue ( we should not have to buy this on our own or use art budget to do so) Cleaning Supplies: sponges & scouring pads, scouring powder/ borax, Vinegar, Murphy's oil soap, bar soap, dish soap Supplies that are asked for by other teachers* (that we don’t supply, but are needed by other teachers & clubs): Colored paper, glue sticks, tempera paint, paint brushes, rolls of colored paper for walls, craft paper rolls, bulletin boards & signs, Poster paper, History day boards, *These should be available for teachers in another supply space and should be supplied in another budget. We also have non consumable supplies that are currently needed, including: more scissors, rulers, hot glue guns, wire cutters, needle nose pliers, exacto-knives, cutting matts This year we added a new course, Sculpture. And we're needing start up supplies. Another concern: Some art supplies, especially for sculpture, are cheapest at Menards or Home Depot or Axeman but it is almost impossible to buy from them, unless with personal money, grant money that can be reimbursed/ We need some discretionary funds to buy from non-art vendors. Our new teacher has been struggling to organize her room, which was never intended to be an art room. There is no storage or places to display work. She has spent her own money to furnish many supplies and organizational products. She needs basic capital improvements to her room: sink, storage for student artwork and supplies.

Letter to School Board re: Viva City High School Visual Arts

To the Members of the School Board and Superintendent Graff,
 I am writing to express my disappointment in the lack of support for our student artists at Viva City High School Visual Arts this year. This year we were greeted with the news that there would be no scholarships. I felt as if the rug had been pulled from beneath my students’ feet. Every year our students depend on what little scholarship money they can earn to help them with college expenses. For art students, there are few places for them to get acknowledgment for their work. Viva City was a place for the students to get recognition and some to be awarded scholarships. As you may know, each art teacher gets to select only four artworks to exhibit at Viva City. That is a difficult choice. As High school Art teachers we teach around 300 students per year. At South we choose our artists carefully, thinking about the quality of the art, dedication to the arts and usually choose upperclassmen who will benefit from the scholarships awarded. I tell my students that this is a chance to get money for college and push them hard to create work that reflects their skill, talent, and personal voice. Our students worked very hard and were expecting to at least get the chance to be awarded scholarships. These are not kids who will get another chance next year. These are students who need to be acknowledged and deserve to be given an opportunity to compete for money to help them with college. Last year one of our South high students was awarded a $1,000 scholarship, another $75. Even these little amounts make a difference in the lives of these students. Seventy-five dollars is the equivalent of three quality paint brushes or a few tubes of paint for an art student, it also says that we see and value you as an artist. Acknowledgment of hard work is important. These students already know that we, their art teachers are proud of them and we value what they do, but they also deserve to have a jury of arts professionals see and judge their work. This year's students deserve no less. These students live in the great city of Minneapolis, a city that prides itself on being an “Arts City”. A city where there are patrons of the Arts who, if asked, might happily sponsor scholarships for upcoming artists, for whom $2,000 is not a lot of money. The Arts program in Minneapolis Public Schools should be an easy way for the district to show what amazing things are going on in the schools. To show the public that their tax money is well spent, that we are educating the future cultural leaders of tomorrow. I want to ask that Arts Scholarships be reinstated for the Viva City High School Visual Arts. I want to ask that we have someone whose job it is to ask for the money and to develop an arts scholarship fund that we will be able to rely on year after year. Without this support, the Viva City Exhibit is only lip service to the arts and students see that they are not valued. I want to ask that a Jury of Arts professionals come and look at our student’s work and award scholarships for the work that has earned it. There is still time to get scholarship money and for a Jury to look at the exhibit, it is exhibited at the Central Minneapolis Library until the end of April. I would be willing to ask Art professors at local Universities to come and look, and for them to choose the best in show, but what we really need is to be developing these relationships at the district level and to have ongoing partnerships with arts organizations (which we do) and to have funds for scholarships that are expressly set aside for this purpose. In the past, there was equality - choosing students from each school. To know the particulars and the history of how Viva City Visual Arts has been run, it would be helpful to ask the current and previous district level arts administrators as well as some of the senior arts teachers. As leadership changes we need to keep our traditions and institutional memory intact and our support for advanced student achievement consistent. It seems that there has not been communication on what has happened in the past, resulting in programs getting neglected - not out of malice or lack of budget, but because leadership doesn’t know, and staff are overworked and don’t have time to administer this important program properly. We need vigorous leadership and advocacy for the arts in Minneapolis Public Schools. In the past, we had a robust team of four people, who were able to do this job and support all of the Arts teachers in the district. Now we have one person who cannot do it alone. I am requesting that you turn your attention back to the Arts. That scholarships be reinstated for Viva City Visual Arts. Thank you for your time and your careful consideration of this request. I believe this is an oversight that can easily be fixed. The Minneapolis Public Schools can reinstate the scholarships and be the leader in the arts that it once was. Sincerely, A Hopeful High School Art Teacher