Common Core

Wendy Popko's avatar Wendy Popko

My entry, "Common Core," was designed to draw attention to funding for public education. Throughout my painting, found words and phrases are cropped and revealed using 500 sheets of recycled student assignments (grades k-6th) to strengthen my message. The 500 sheets also equal one ream of paper –our latest addition to the back-to-school supply list due to severe budget cuts. My 12ft x 8ft painting depicts a water park without water. The water tower represents an outdated proposal, slowing to a trickle and drips into the large pool below where students have only puddles to play in. Some students are painted grey to represent those who are not failing enough to qualify for the help they need to bring them up to grade level, and yet they must be pushed forward: No Child Left Behind. Only one child smiles throughout the painting, a classmate helps the smiling girl leave the grey zone. This empowers her to become a strong student and will thrive in public education. She has hope. The parent brigade of volunteers carry red buckets to pour funds into the school, though much of it showers the pay-to-play motto. As parents, our pockets are only so deep. Some families are frustrated. They form a line, ready to board the school bus, and search for alternative ways to educate their children: private schooling, home schooling, or charter schools. As the students leave, so do the proposal tax dollars, depleting the pool funds even more. What will become of our public education system, once all the funds run dry? Schools continue to close, classrooms combine, teachers are frozen in pay (or cut), longer supply lists (only if the families can purchase them, if not then teachers supply them out of their own pockets)… The small pool filled with adults, just below the colorful funnel, symbolize the greed and entitlement of some and how it has wormed its way into the schools, siphoning what little trickles down from the broken Capitol spout. They refuse to feel the drought. I am not a teacher. I am a mom. I am a volunteer. I am an artist and hope this will spark conversation. Thank you for reading.

Entry Details
  • Art form: 2-D
  • Depth: 2 1/2 inches
  • Medium: Acrylic on recycled paper
  • Width: 12 feet
  • Year created: 2016
  • Height: 8 feet