Nearly 60 percent of district-run Chicago Public Schools (CPS) have an arts instructor to student ratio of 1-to-350 or less, but fewer than 25 percent of elementary schools do not meet the district's target of offering 120 minutes of art to students per week. That's according to a report issued Wednesday by Ingenuity Inc., a Chicago-based organization that advocates on art education.
"The data collected examines how schools match up to the goals and recommendations set forth in the city’s first-ever CPS Arts Education Plan which was approved by the Chicago Board of Education in November of 2012," a news release from Ingenuity Inc. reads.
The report's findings, based on the 2012-2013 school year, also show the distribution of art "resources is uneven, and there are gaps," Ingenuity Inc.'s Executive Director Paul Sznewajs told the Chicago Sun-Times.
“It was striking that a lot of the provision of arts services in our city are drawn across socioeconomic lines,” he added.
Here are some of the report's key findings, as detailed in a news release from Ingenuity Inc.
• 94 percent of the 577 District-run schools have at least one full- or part-time credentialed arts instructor, though student access to teachers varies;
• Less than 25 percent of CPS elementary schools provide the CPS Arts Education Plan’s recommended 120 minutes of weekly instruction;
• The District employs close to the number of credentialed instructors needed to fulfill the new elementary and high school arts requirements, but the distribution of these instructors across the District is significantly uneven;
• 56 percent, or 323 schools, meet the recommended arts instructor to student ratio of 1-to-350 or less;
• 95 schools are “Excelling” in arts education provision and investment within the first year of Plan implementation;
• Total arts education funding is over $120 million annually, but there is need for additional investments from the District if it is to meet the goals of the Plan;
• 82 percent of District-run schools have both an instructor and at least one community arts partner;
• The majority of in-school-time partner programs are one-time field trips or performances that may signal little consistent or ongoing student access to longer-term, higher-cost programs such as arts residencies; and
• 28 percent of schools had an arts residency in 2012–13.
CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said the district has since adopted measures to include more arts education in schools, among other efforts. Almost 600 schools currently have art liaisons, she said.
“We’re working . . . to make sure the arts education plan doesn’t exist in a vacuum,” she told the newspaper. “The Ingenuity plan is really a snapshot in time that really helps us to understand how we need to move forward to meet the needs of our students despite dwindling funds.”
Some city tax increment finance surplus funds are also being put towards the hiring of 84 arts teachers, and Byrd-Bennett said the majority of those instructors will be placed in South and West Side schools.
Click through for more on the report's findings.