Celebrating Chicago’s Bold Vision for Arts Education in Public Schools
As the City of Portland prepares to disseminate the proceeds of the groundbreaking new Arts Education & Access Fund for the first time to Portland school districts, we can celebrate the restoration of arts teachers to every Portland elementary school and weekly arts education for every K-5 student. But many feel that a grander plan may be necessary to fully restore arts education in Portland’s public schools.
Nationally, the cities of Seattle, Boston and Chicago are leading the charge to improve educational opportunities in their schools through the arts. And in Chicago especially, the plan to return the arts, in every form, for every student, every grade and every school could transform public education as we know it.
At the end of 2012, the City of Chicago partnered with Chicago Public Schools to unveil a bold vision for bringing arts education to over 400,000 Chicago Public School students. Timed to coincide with the release of the City’s Cultural Plan, Chicago is reflecting on its cultural legacy and making “no small plans” for the role the arts and culture will play in the future of Chicago and the lives of its citizens.
Chicago’s three-year Arts Education Plan promises a comprehensive and sequential study of visual art, music, dance, and theater from Pre K-12th grade and outlines goals and recommendations to systematically improve, expand and strategically coordinate arts education for all Chicago Public School students. The plan insures a robust arts education will be part of every student’s experience from the day they start school to the day they graduate and hones in on policy, curriculum, capacity, partnerships and data to build, implement and measure success. Plan highlights include:
- Establishing the arts as a core subject
- Expanding the number of art forms offered to include visual art, music, dance and drama
- Expanding high school graduation requirements
- Increasing staffing levels for arts instructors in schools
- Launching an ArtSmart School Designation to support principals
- Mapping and aligning arts curriculum to the new Common Core Standards
- Identifying and activitating an Arts Liaison in each school
- Creating a system to track elementary school-level arts data
- Creating a School Leadership Guide in the Arts
Chicago’s civic and educational leaders believe that our public schools have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to ensure that the arts, in all its forms, are part of our children’s everyday experience in the classroom. And many here in Portland, share that belief.