Public schools don’t have to be a minefield of metal detectors, minimal expectations, and mind-numbing routine. An alternative exists right here in Chicago, at the Dixon Elementary Public School in the Chatham neighborhood, where former principal Joan Crisler and her successor Sharon Dale have implemented the idea that art should be an integral part of the learning environment, with museum-quality works openly adorning the halls. The results, in terms of student performance and morale, have been spectacular, but, as this inspiring but pragmatic documentary demonstrates, there are no miracle solutions: Crisler’s protégé Carol Briggs has an uphill battle applying the same approach at another school, and recent budget cuts have left even the most successful programs vulnerable to the axe.
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