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Calif. arts-education deficit emboldens advocates to turn STEM into STEAM

by AirTalk

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Arts educators in California are joining forces to demand that schools recognize arts classes as not just optional but integral to STEM learning. Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images

Arts educators in California are joining forces to demand that schools recognize arts classes as not just optional but integral to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) learning.

The original intent of STEM education was to increase U.S. competitiveness in the global marketplace of workers.

Teachers from various disciplines including reading, athletics, and the arts have tried to argue their respective subjects can enhance STEM learning and, therefore, should be included in the funding priorities.

While mechanical engineer Norman Fortenberry says integrating different subjects can bolster learning, he says that's not the real issue. "The real issue is money, and whether the funding exists to expand beyond the four main subjects," explains Fortenberry who heads the American Society for Engineering Education. Or as was articulated in "Education Week," "How can you focus on other subjects (such as art) without losing the mission of STEM or watering down its primary purpose?"

Education professor David Drew of Claremont Graduate School has been working for decades to broaden STEM and make it more inclusive.

He says STEAM funding is inevitable and will likely come from industry, such as Boeing aerospace company which has been creating collaborations between its arts and STEM education donation recipients.

While incorporating the arts into STEM is hardly controversial, does the funding exist and will it avoid watering down the original intent?

Guest:

Norman Fortenberry, Executive Director, American Society for Engineering Education; Fortenberry is a mechanical engineer

David Drew, Former Joseph B. Platt Chair and Professor of Education, Claremont Graduate University

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