Celebrities & State Superintendent Candidates Discuss Arts Education

Celebrities Jack Black, Ben McKenzie, Malcolm Jamal Warner, Taylor Dayne and others joined the two candidates for State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Assemblymember Tom Torlakson and Larry Aceves, at a forum to discuss the future of arts education in California.
The goal of the forum was to discuss the plight and promise of arts education in California public schools. Debbie Devine, Artistic Director for the 24th Street Theatre, opened the event by introducing her former student Jack Black. Black spoke about the importance of arts education in his life remarking, “My life was quickly swirling around the toilet bowl about to be flushed. I don’t know what I would have done if I if I hadn’t met Deb Devine, my first drama teacher, who inspired me and for the first time gave me a reason to really love going to school and really opened my mind and soul to an exciting world of literature and communication.”  He continued, “Because it’s theater … I never thought of it as straight up education, I thought of it as an incredibly exciting, fun experience, and all of sudden I knew all these new things and had this incredible education.”
Both candidates expressed their support for arts education. Assemblymember Tom Torlakson said, “I’m here because I do believe, like you, that we can turn things around and bring back that well-rounded experience, to create well-rounded graduates who have the opportunity to explore their talents in many dimensions.”  Larry Aceves, a former school Superintendent said, “The arts are not an add-on that you cut, the arts are part of how children learn. The problem-solving, critical thinking and creativity are not an extra, they are how children learn.”

Presented by the California Alliance for Arts Education and the Music Center: Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County, the forum sponsors and partners also included: California State PTA, Ovation, The Boeing Company, the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM), Yamaha, Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and NBC Universal.


About artsoceducation

Pat Wayne is Director of Programs and Education for Arts Orange County, the county-wide arts council. She is also a parent in the Saddleback School District and past PTA President. The arts transformed her life in the second grade and she went on to major in theater design and earn a Master's in Arts Administration.
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2 Responses to Celebrities & State Superintendent Candidates Discuss Arts Education

  1. Alexandra says:

    I’m glad there is a Latino candidate, otherwise no Latino representation. No Latino artist. Audience looked all white. No Latinos highlighted in VIP’s video. This is CA where Latinos make up 37% of the population. If you are going to create policy for a significant portion of the students of this diverse state Latinos should be included in the policy recommendation process. Perhaps I am missing something. If not, shame on the coordinators of this event.

  2. policyjoe says:

    As the policy director for the California Alliance and one of the group who put the “Education Creativity and California’s Future”forum together, I wanted Alexandra to know that one of the first artists who agreed to participate on the celebrity panel was the television and theater actor, Benito Martinez. Unfortunately for us, (but fortunately for Mr. Martinez) he got a job a few days before the event and was forced to cancel. Like Alexandra, we pay attention to the responsibility we have to represent all the people of California, and will continue to reach out to all communities in our commitment to provide equal access to quality arts education for every student in California.

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