The Lorain City Schools teamed up with EDC to establish six magnet school programs that integrated arts into seven of the city’s middle and elementary school classrooms and new labs.
In 2001, federal regulations called on school districts to meet the new demands of standardized testing. As a result, arts program after arts program was cut until there were hardly any left. And so it went for hundreds of schools across the nation.
Then, one year ago, one Ohio school district changed
The Lorain City Schools teamed up with EDC to establish six magnet school programs that integrated arts into seven of the city’s middle and elementary school classrooms and new labs. Called Lorain Adventures in Learning, the program is funded by the U.S. Department of Education.
“In the city of Lorain, the tax base is low, and the district has struggled financially,” says EDC’s Joe Ippolito, director of the project. “When funding got tight and cuts had to be made, the first thing to go was the arts.”
Then came the revival. EDC began providing professional development, program design, and strategic planning assistance in theme-based magnet schools. The district, located outside Cleveland, began devoting time to programs such as inquiry-based science, video game design and animation, arts, and literature.
Perhaps the most innovative is one called Math through Music. “Both the notion of connecting the arts to the rest of their curriculum—math in particular—and the added music in the school has generated a lot of energy among teachers and students,” says Paul Goldenberg, also of EDC.
For Math through Music, Goldenberg collaborated with concert pianist-turned-educator Peter Taussig to train teachers to instruct students on the piano inside the math lab. One activity asks students to recognize congruent patterns in sheet music sequences; another has them playing two-handed piano melodies that are complementary pairs of numbers.
“Teachers have adopted music-connected activities to do with their students,” says Goldenberg. “They have had some basic keyboard lessons, and they give the students the opportunity to continue learning to play when the class is over.”
The success of Lorain Adventures in Learning has led to a determined effort by Lorain administrators to maintain the magnet schools when funding runs out in 2010.
“EDC is leading the effort to gather and post online curriculum that has been created, as well as other resources germane to each theme,” Ippolito says. “We are also working with district administrators to develop long-term strategies to raise funds from other sources that can support the schools.”
Originally published on July 13, 2009