Did you know that the average American teacher spends $600 of their own money every year on school supplies for their classrooms and students? Singer, rapper, actor and philanthropist, Common, wants to help them do that and more and you can, too. Here’s how.
Common is deeply committed to helping America’s children and teens be successful in school and that means lending support to their teachers, who delve deeply into their own pockets every year to make sure that their students have the pens, pencils, notebooks and even textbooks they need. Bet you didn’t know that more than half of America’s public school kids live in poverty, according to the Southern Education Foundation. That’s why teachers are determined to make sure that they have the most basic tools they need in order to learn.
Common, whose mom, Dr. Mahalia Hines, had a long career in Chicago as a teacher and high school principal, was thrilled to sign on to be the Ambassador for Adopt-A-Classroom, which for 19 years has worked to support teachers and kids. Over the years, Adopt-A-Classroom has helped 216,000 teachers, benefitting 4.25 million students and Common wants to raise those numbers even higher, especially with Donald Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos promising to cut funding for public schools. “Most kids go to public school and I want to help them get a better education. I want equality of opportunity for our public schools,” Common told HollywoodLife.com in an EXCLUSIVE interview. In fact, the artist has personally adopted an entire New York City arts school and will fund all the school’s needed supplies. He has also launched his own foundation, Common Ground, which has multiple programs, including arts and college prep programs to empower students.
Now, Common answers 5 Key Questions (and a BONUS QUESTION!) about why it’s so critical to help our nation’s students succeed.
1. Why was it so important for you to partner with Adopt-A-Classroom? And why is it so important for others to do, too?
Common: Teachers mean a whole lot for the future for our kids. I have a close connection to teachers. My mom is a retired teacher. I have a reverence for teachers. When you support teachers, it’s a way of supporting our kids. Adopt-A-Classroom for me is a direct way to give back to teachers.
2. Why are music & creative arts so critical for young people? People often think the focus on core subjects should be more important… like math & writing.
Common: Creative arts give kids a chance to express themselves when they might otherwise not be able to express their struggles and pain. They help them learn who they are. Arts are like a gift from God. They connect you to who you are and to other people from different walks of life. They can be helpful with expressing their emotions in tough times, sometimes even through poetry, which can be powerful. I also think the creative arts open up more of your brain and imagination and through that, they complement learning math and science.
3. If President Trump is successful in cutting the entire National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) budget, will that hurt America’s kids? How?
Common: Cutting all funding for the National Endowment for the Arts sends a message that the creative arts aren’t important. There will be a broader affect of taking away opportunities for kids to get funds for arts programs and educating them in a new way.
4. What would you like to tell Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, who isn’t a strong supporter of public schools?
Common: That public schools are very important. Most kids don’t have the opportunity to go to private school. We still need to instill in public schools the best programs and the best teachers. We want every kid to have the best opportunity so this country can be the best. We have to invest in ALL our kids. Not just kids in private schools.
5. When you’ve been working with kids through Common Ground and Adopt-A-Classroom, what advice or programs work the best in helping kids improve in school? And stay out of trouble?
Common: I tell kids to find your passion. Try different things because you may not know what your passion is yet. And then, go for that 150%. If they find something they have a love for, it will be with them for the rest of their lives.
Common: Ye, that’s my brother! I love him, and I’m looking forward to hearing his next album. I’m working on a new project with Robert Glasper and Karriem Riggins.
Now, to donate to help teachers and students, go to AdoptAClassroom.org or go to any Burlington Coat Factory across the country and you can donate at the check out. To read more about Common’s foundation and donate, go to CommonGroundFoundation.org.