PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Portland arts tax. It's hated, debated, and many of the 68 percent of people that bother to pay it do so reluctantly.
But thanks to the $35 tax, the Regional Arts and Culture Council says every elementary school in Portland now has an art teacher. Before the tax, there were 31 art teachers in Portland elementary schools. Now there are 91.
At Sitton Elementary in St. Johns, that new teacher is Carlos Baca. His job is only possible because of the arts tax.
"I'm very lucky to have the job that I do and come to school every day and do art with kids," said Baca.
The program isn't elaborate. It's just Baca and his cart full of supplies. Think of it as "art on a cart" rolling from class to class, serving more than 400 students.
That includes students with special needs. Baca said for children who may struggle with oral or written expression, art can offer another pathway.
"I feel like I'm an art therapist sometimes," he said. "Art is a therapy for everyone. It's a therapy for me, it's a therapy for the students."
In the general student population, the art lessons often involve other subjects, something student Brody appreciates.
"I like art because it teaches us English, math and science," he explained.
For Keysha, art is all about freedom of expression. The class might study a famous artist, but "we can just do our own thing in art," she said.
Baca said many students wait all week for the chance to be creative. And for the chance to be their teacher, he is deeply grateful.
"It has made me a complete person," said Baca. "This is what I want to do for the rest of my life."