Keeping the Arts in Secondary Education: Larry Wilson

By Wilson, Larry | Pasadena Star-News, August 25, 2017 | Go to article overview

Keeping the Arts in Secondary Education: Larry Wilson


Wilson, Larry, Pasadena Star-News


All this emphasis on STEM — science, technology, engineering, math — education comes out of the relentless that’s-where-the-jobs-are approach.

But notice how even the practical people want to leaven that potentially narrow-minded dough with culture? And thus the rise of STEAM curriculums: They throw some art in.

Who do you remember from JPL’s Curiosity landing on Mars? You remember Mohawk Guy (systems engineer Bobak Ferdowsi), because he was punk rock. What do titans of industry like Eli Broad want to do once they make a pile? They want to found a museum.

I was thinking about arts education recently when reading stories about parents who wanted to pull their children from public systems in Monrovia and Pasadena in order to attend a new charter, California School for the Arts in Duarte, only to find their requests initially denied by administrators. (Later, most of the transfer requests were allowed.)

In a county of 10 million, there are 130 annual slots at the auditions-required Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, where all three Haim sisters from the eponymous rock band went, along with extraordinary young singer Phoebe Bridgers. There’s a demand for public arts education. Why not meet it?

At the middle-school level, Pasadena Unified says it does so, at the new Eliot Arts Magnet Academy. So I paid a visit there last week to check out the arts.

Principal Lori Touloumian and her staff really put on the dog for me during my afternoon there. They know how important it is to lure back families seduced in recent generations by the privates and the charters. As it happens, the school, in its old incarnation, pre-arts, is my alma mater. They gave me a swag bag with an Eliot Huskies gym T-shirt. I reminded them that their namesake, Harvard educator Charles Eliot, created the idea of the junior high school for those bridge years. …

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