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Barbarians at the Gates

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steele.qxd

Dear editor:

Your article on Gallery 37 ["The Show Must Move On," August 14] was very interesting. Gallery 37 does a wonderful job of keeping Chicago's teenagers busy after school and in the summer. Teens learn important job skills. They learn about the creative process. They learn about themselves. Teenagers need to learn these things in order to become productive adults in our society.

Despite Gallery 37's success with the above endeavors, I would like to support Karl Androes's sentiment that Gallery 37 should not become an outside gatekeeper agency for all arts education programs going into the Chicago public schools. This adds another layer of red tape to a bureaucratic process that is difficult enough. Arts agencies and organizations are very lean on administrative funds. Gallery 37 would increase an administrative layer, thereby adding time, new protocol, and money to a process that generally works better in a decentralized way.

As an independent consultant working with five Chicago public schools, I have worked with over 15 arts organizations that offer educational programming to teachers and children. I believe that major educational reforms took place only after the state legislature decentralized many educational decisions, making it possible for local schools to make choices about programs that fit their particular students' needs. While decentralization is not perfect, it is a vast improvement over the centralized approach that preceded it.

No doubt Gallery 37 needs a way to find funding to maintain a year-round staff and they are using their contacts to expand their reach. This kind of an expansion is not a good plan for the arts in Chicago public school education.

Tammy Steele

N. Dayton

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