I read with great interest the recent article about Wheeling High School's curriculum focus on STEM: science, technology, engineering and math. I applaud the school's efforts to avoid superficial comparisons and dig deeply into the details to understand what the scores do and do not convey about student achievement.
But regardless of the demographics, a focus on STEM is incomplete. This new awareness has led a growing number of business leaders and others dedicated to educational reform to shift their focus to STEAM: science, technology, engineering, arts and math. The acronym itself more fully describes exactly what our country needs to rejuvenate our local, state and other economies.
In a recent study by Americans for the Arts titled "Arts and Economic Prosperity IV," Christopher Forbes, vice chairman of Forbes Inc., says, "The success of my family's business depends on finding and cultivating a creative and innovative workforce. I have witnessed firsthand the power of the arts in building these business skills. When we participate personally in the arts, we strengthen our 'creativity muscles,' which makes us not just a better ceramist or chorus member, but a more creative worker -- better able to identify challenges and innovative solutions. ..."
A "relevant," "engaging" and "strength"-based curriculum at Wheeling High School is an admirable and appropriate goal. To be truly comprehensive, however, it must include the arts. When the STEM bubble eventually bursts, STEAM will jump-start the creativity and collaboration our country needs to thrive.
Raue Center for the Arts