Community Arts Partners

Photo courtesy of CPS Arts Education Plan

Photo courtesy of CPS Arts Education Plan

It seems like STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is everywhere in the world of education these days. You hear about the benefits of a STEM-based curriculum when you turn on the radio, tune into the State of the Union address, or get within 50 yards of a school.

The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is turning STEM into STEAM by establishing new priorities that focus on integrating the arts into the school day of every child. The school network’s new Arts Education Plan, backed by mayor Rahm Emanuel, outlines six arts education priorities that many hope will lead to art for every child, in every grade, every day. The plan will be released in full form later this month and is a multi-year approach spanning from 2012 to 2015.

What will this report mean for museums and other community art partners? If all goes as planned, CPS will be increasing their demand for arts programming (and the money that goes into making these programs possible). It is clear in the report that CPS hopes to streamline the process for developing partnerships between schools and museums. You don’t have to argue with me about the benefits of the arts in schools, but I worry about the large promises being presented in this abstract. Half of me is pleased that there is at least something being attempted that isn’t STEM, STEM, STEM – but I wonder what the repercussions on already taxed teachers with tight budgets might be. Check the report out for yourself, is arts in every school, every grade, every day too good to be true? What impact do you think this could have on Chicago’s museums?

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About catebay

Informal educator working in the world of art. Interests in public programming and community advocacy. Loves learning about people, collecting blue mason jars, and consuming Swedish fish.
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2 Responses to Community Arts Partners

  1. lizcongdon says:

    Cate this is a great blog post! Thanks for the perspective! This could be old news, but have you heard about the “Stem-To-Steam” initiative?
    http://stemtosteam.org/

    It is “championed” by the Rhode Island School of Design, and similarly aims to give art (and design) a more important place in the future of education. The CPS Arts Education Plan seems to be a little more developed than RISD’s work, but RISD has a beautiful flashy webpage that makes it seem like they have put some serious effort behind it. Even better, they have a fun case study of how Sesame Street is focusing their season this year on “incorporating art into the existing STEM focus”.
    http://stemtosteam.org/case-studies/sesame-streets-s-t-e-a-m-curriculum/

    I noticed on the Arts Education Plan webpage that they talked about something called the “Full School Day” that will provide extra time for these programs- what exactly is the “full school day” and what are your opinions on it as a Chicagoan?

  2. catebay says:

    In short, the “full school day” was recently created within the CPS system to extend the school day by approximately 90 minutes, According to various reports, CPS was averaging approx 15-22 percent less in school time than other urban schools. While I support time for the arts, the full school day was one factor that led to the CPS teacher strike in the Fall and has caused contention between the boards and teachers throughout the city. I wonder what a compromise might be… Currently schools are required but highly encouraged to switch to a lengthened school day.

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