TODAY   |  October 08, 2013

Tony Bennett brings the music back to school

The 87-year-old singer and his wife, former teacher Susan Benedetto, stop by the studio to discuss their non-profit organization Exploring the Arts, and how important it is for children to obtain a well-rounded education through art. “You see kids that are happy to be in school every day,” Benedetto says, and that passion is unbeatable.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> it's time for education nation today. i feel like i shouldn't speak over tony singing. tony bennett and his beautiful wife susan.

>> the couple feel strongly about a well rounded education. nearly 15 years ago they founded exploring the arts which strengthens the role of arts education in public high schools .

>> great to see you again.

>> thank you very much.

>> wow.

>> it all started basically with the sinatra school you built in brooklyn.

>> in queens.

>> right, right. you are a teacher yourself.

>> i used to be. i was a social studies teacher at the sinatra school .

>> the arts have been stripped away from a lot of schools when they make cuts. tell us how important it was in your life and what impact you hope the to make.

>> i started in a high school in manhattan. the high school of industrial art which taught us how to make a living as artists. it was a wonderful school . so i told susan about that. then we kicked around ideas and decided to start a school but had no idea it would branch out into 17 schools now.

>> 17 schools now. out in california, so they are not just low call.

>> this year we have three schools in east los angeles .

>> funding is always an issue when it comes to things like this.

>> because of tony, everybody was open to it. it was just two years from the idea to opening the sinatra school . with the success of that school we were like, we don't want to just have these kids benefit. we want to try to benefit all high school -aged kids. we are slowly growing. slowly but surely.

>> it's common sense. if you can put a child on the path early on that they have a passion for. my daddy used to say, find something you love to do and figure out a way to get paid for it. that's what you are teaching them. it's the greatest gift.

>> your dad was right about that. that's the secret. if you get lucky enough to have a passion for it, it all works out really.

>> you would be willing to put in the work.

>> i bet you have seen so many success stories. do you have anecdotes of things you have seen?

>> all the kids. the great thing is you see kids that are happy to be in school every day.

>> they can't wait to get there.

>> attendance rate is 95, 99%.

>> graduation rates for you are huge. test scores and everything else.

>> well, you guys have been a great part of education nation. i know you came back and you're here with with us. thanks for all you do.

>> next year you'll have 30 schools.

>> we're going for it.

>> you're performing this week, on friday, i think.

>> where is that?

>> radio city music hall .

>> oh, radio city .

>> tony, come on.

>> he'll be back tomorrow to