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Turnaround Arts is a new initiative by the US Department of Education to inject arts education into the eight worst failing schools in the country. The two-year pilot project will be funded publicly and privately, and is also drawing on America’s professional arts community for support.

“This is the first ever federal initiative that focuses specifically on quality arts education in school,” said actor Sarah Jessica Parker, who has adopted one of the eight schools. “We think Turnaround Arts will show that arts education is a solution that has been hiding in plain sight. It’s more than just creative expression for a child. It really is about higher attendance, it’s higher GPAs, it’s higher SATs. It’s the likelihood of a child attending school everyday, graduating and then pursuing higher education, which is what we want for all of our children.”

Actors Kerry Washington and Forest Whitaker are also adopting schools, which will include such responsibilities as fund raising and advocating for the school programs.

“It’s easy to fall through the cracks without those resources around you, without those extra things that get you excited about learning,” said Washington in a Huffington Post article. “I literally remember walking to dance class, walking those two blocks from my house and seeing crack vials on the street. If I wasn’t walking to dance class, where would I have been walking? I just don’t know.”

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