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So Cal education, LAUSD, the Cal States and the UCs

LAUSD teachers to learn visual arts and cultural history integration

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Los Angeles Unified School District and Loyola Marymount University have received a million-dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Education giving teachers an opportunity to learn how to weave instruction on black and Latino culture into teaching the visual arts. 

The Los Angeles Unified school board approved the grant contract this week. The vote marked the end of a lengthy process to write the grant, completed last spring, and finalize the award, which the Department of Education did in December. 

The $1,165,629 grant's first phase will be implemented this summer at Loyola Marymount University — the college is collaborating with LAUSD on the grant project.

"Teachers will understand how they can implement visual arts into the context of their cultural history instruction," said Loyola Marymount University's Darin Earley, co-director of the project.

RELATED: LAUSD school board candidates weigh in on arts education

Professional development for teachers will be a major emphasis of the project. That work will start this summer at LMU's campus.

"We're bringing in faculty in Chicano and Latino studies and African-American studies to talk about history, culture and context, and then we're bringing in local artists and arts instructors to help teachers actually just go through the process of creating art," said Deanna Cooke, principal investigator for the grant and LMU director of engaged learning. 

Cooke said the goal is to merge the two areas of focus, art and culture, and learn if the teaching method will boost student achievement. 

Sixty-one applicants across the country applied for the grant; Los Angeles Unified was one of 17 districts to win. 

Over the four-year life of the grant, 90 teachers and six elementary schools will participate in the project. The schools involved are Cowan Avenue Elementary School, Kentwood Elementary School, Loyola Village Elementary School, Paseo Del Rey Elementary School, Playa Vista Elementary School and Westport Heights Elementary School.

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