For all the hype surrounding Portland's "creative class," we're dismally far behind in one important measure of creative investment: arts education in our public schools. The Creative Advocacy Network (CAN) recently pointed to a new U.S. Department of Education study showing that Portland's support for visual art and music education is significantly below the national average, finding that there are "11,596 children attending schools who do not have any art, dance, drama, and music instruction."

Now, even Portland's only "arts focused" public elementary school, Buckman Elementary, is about to reflect that trend. Earlier this week, Buckman (which integrates dance, drama, music, and visual art into its curriculum) announced the layoffs of two of its three full-time arts instructors.

According to a press release, "Buckman will be left with a single arts position: drama-music. Visual art and dance will no longer be a part of the school day, and students will most likely no longer get to participate in the annual grade-level performances that incorporated visual arts, dance, theater and music."

Community members have organized a schoolwide meeting tonight at 6 pm to discuss the layoffs and to formulate a fundraising campaign—something they've gotten quite good at over the years, raising money for pianos, choir risers, teachers' after-school hours, and more, through the likes of their annual Art Sale and high-profile musical benefits.

CAN, meanwhile, says they're "laying the groundwork" for a November ballot initiative to create a dedicated fund for arts education in public schools, though they haven't gotten back to me yet on a request for details of what exactly that might mean.