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S.C. Education Dept. and Arts Commission begin $20 million partnership

The SCDE says they are set to receive $2.1 billion from the federal government’s American...
The SCDE says they are set to receive $2.1 billion from the federal government’s American Rescue Plan and specifically the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds.((Source: WTVM))
Published: Jun. 29, 2021 at 1:04 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - A $20 million partnership between the South Carolina Department of Education and South Carolina Arts Commission is intended to help public schools address pandemic related learning loss.

The SCDE says they are set to receive $2.1 billion from the federal government’s American Rescue Plan and specifically the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds. These funds have been administered through the U.S. Department of Education to state educational agencies, the SCDE says.

Ninety percent of these funds will flow through to school districts, but the SCDE says the amounts will be determined in proportion to the amount of funds they received in summer 2020 from the Every Student Succeeds Act. The remaining funds are to be used for state-level activities to address learning loss, summer enrichment programs, and comprehensive after-school programs.

The SCDE says they solicited public input on the use of these funds and the needs that the state should address in its ARP ESSER plan which was submitted to the U.S. Department of Education on June 18.

Leadership from the South Carolina Arts Commission proposed to the SCDE a creative pathway that the department says would be rooted in innovation and evidence-based practices.

The SCDE says funding was requested to allow the SCAC’s team of professionals to help schools and teachers to not only fill learning gaps in the arts, but integrate arts to remediate core subject areas, and provide afterschool learning opportunities that leverage the arts.

The SCDE approved $20 million for the SCAC to implement its plan 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.”

The SCDE says focus areas of the SCAC’s plan include: Arts integration, Arts in early childhood, and Arts industry certification credentials for high school students.

“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.

In addition to building on the work of the ABC Project, the SCDE says their Arts Commission will expand existing pilot projects with the South Carolina Governor’s School for Arts & Humanities in Greenville and Engaging Creative Minds in Charleston.

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