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Members of the South Carolina Department of Education and the South Carolina Arts Commission announced a $20 million partnership Tuesday that will help public schools throughout the state implement arts-based learning initiatives. The methods are to help pandemic-related learning loss.

 The SCDOE is set to receive $2.1 billion in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds to help public schools address the impact of COVID on students, families, educators and school communities. A remaining portion of the funds, after they are dispersed throughout school districts, are to be used for state-level activities to address learning loss, summer enrichment programs, and after-school programs.

The Department of Education asked for public input on the funds and the needs the state should address in its plan. Officials from the South Carolina Arts Commission proposed a creative pathway rooted in evidence-based practices, utilizing the arts.

Funding was requested to allow the arts commission professionals and partners to help schools and teachers fill learning loss gaps in the arts, use arts integration to remediate core subject areas, and provide summer and after-school learning opportunities that leverage the arts in schools.

The plan was approved for $20 million, and the arts commission is set to implement it over the course of the next three years.

“As a longtime music teacher, I have seen firsthand the impact that arts education can have on students,” State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman said. “The arts have a unique ability to engage students of diverse backgrounds across all subject areas which makes this initiative well suited for the receipt of these funds.”

Focus areas for the SCAC's plan include:

  • arts integration
  • arts in early childhood
  • arts industry certification credentials for high school students, building on existing vocational training programs

The SCAC will rely on its partners at the Arts in Basic Curriculum Project to realize its classroom-based goals. The funding will facilitate scaling the program to:

  • increase access to quality arts education (targeting underserved communities)
  • develop arts-rich learning environments
  • build, restore, expand and support infrastructure for arts learning at the district level
  • research and develop new and innovative instructional practices

“We have a couple of years’ worth of recent Gallup Organization research looking at South Carolina’s arts-rich schools. It repeatedly shows a link between arts-rich learning and student hope and engagement. We have dreamed about having the kind of funding that would enable expansion to all communities throughout the state,” SCAC Board Chairwoman Dee Crawford said.

The SCAC is working to release information on grant guidelines, research to support the practices, partnership and professional learning opportunities, and more in the coming weeks. The resources will be available at abcprojectsc.com starting in July.

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