05/16/2013 07:49 am ET Updated Jul 15, 2013

California's "Blueprint" for Creative Schools

Tom Torlakson, Superintendent of the California Department of Education, together with Malissa Shriver, the Chair of the California Arts Council (CAC), hatched an idea last year to create a "Blueprint for Creative Schools."

Torlakson convened the first meeting in Coronado, CA to talk about "how the arts and creative education can transform California classrooms" and at that first meeting announced his plan to produce the Blueprint.

Last week, a task force created by the state took another leap forward.

First assembled last year to develop the plan, the task force has been meeting regularly.Meanwhile, the California Legislative Joint Committee on the Arts has reintroduced legislation that will require the Governor to develop a "creativity index," used to measure creativity in public schools statewide. The legislation (SB 432), sponsored by the California Alliance for Arts Education( CAAE) and authored by Senators Curren Price and Carol Liu, "would create an index to measure student opportunities for creativity and innovation in schools."

The blueprint thus becomes the centerpiece for California schools.

Called CREATE CA, for "core reforms engaging arts to educate", the effort involves the California Alliance for Arts Education (CAAE), the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCSESA), and many other groups statewide, and was inspired and launched through the state's participation in the National Endowment for the Arts' Education Leaders Institute (ELI), which awarded California (through the CAC) one of five grants nationwide to attend an ELI convening in Chicago in May 2011.

The goal: Ensure each student reaches his or her full potential by broadening California's educational vision, policy, and practices to promote innovation, economic development, and creativity.

The task force was initially charged with making recommendations about:

• Curriculum Assessment
• Equity and Access
• Policy and Politics
• Research and Evidence Building
• Role of Business and Industry
• School Finance and Sustainability
• Strengthening Collaborative Relationships
• Teacher and School Development

The goal of CREATE CA is to "eliminate opportunity gaps by improving policy, practice, and access for all students to benefit from a quality education in and through the arts."

At the most recent meeting in Fresno California--now chaired by Ms. Shriver and Craig Cheslog, Principal Advisor to the Superintendent--over 70 recommendations were discussed at length. While the blueprint itself still has to be fully fleshed out, the task force is on its way to completing its assignments.

It should be of enormous help to schools everywhere as they begin implementing the "Common Core:"

"Consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them...designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy."