New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer released, “State of the Arts: A Plan to Boost Arts Education in New York City,” a first-of-its-kind, school-by-school breakdown that reveals unequal access to arts education for children living in some of the City’s lowest-income communities and violations of State Education mandate governing middle and high school arts teachers.
“Funding for arts education in New York City has been on a steady decline over the last seven years – it’s time for us to draw up a new plan so that we can give all our children, in every corner of the City, a quality, comprehensive arts education,” Stringer said, noting that research has long shown that quality arts education leads to improved GPA and higher college attainment rates.
The report gathered the most recent data available from the Department of Education’s (DOE) Annual Arts in Schools Reports to assess public schools’ capacity to deliver arts services and programs, focusing on whether schools employ full- or part-time certified arts teachers, have dedicated rooms for arts instruction, or have formal partnerships with arts and cultural organizations.
The report found the following:
· In total, 419 schools in New York City – 28 percent – lack a full-time, certified arts teacher.
· 306 schools –20 percent– have neither a full- or part-time certified arts teacher, despite a state law requiring that middle and high school students receive core arts instruction taught by certified teachers; roughly one out of seven middle and high schools are in violation of that law.
· One out of four middle and high schools lack partnerships with arts /cultural organizations, including many in the city’s poorest neighborhoods.
· 10 percent of schools reported having no dedicated arts room.
In addition, while the South Bronx and Central Brooklyn are home to just 31 percent of schools, the report found that in those neighborhoods more than 42 percent of schools lack either full-time or part-time certified arts teachers, and nearly half lack both a certified arts teacher and a partnership with an arts or cultural organization.
“New York is home to some of the finest museums, theaters and cultural institutions in the world. With new leadership at City Hall and at the DOE, we have a unique opportunity to make arts education equal for all – by defining the challenges that currently exist and coming up with lasting solutions to move our city forward,” Stringer said.
From 2006-2013, New York City’s public schools experienced a 47 percent decline in funding to hire arts and cultural organizations to provide programming for students, and an even steeper decline in dedicated support for supplies like musical instruments and other equipment.
Comptroller Stringer’s report makes several recommendations to DOE on ways to restore and expand arts education, including:
· Creating a separate budget line for arts education funding and prioritizing spending at schools that have yet to meet basic standards set by the City and state.
· Embedding arts data in School Progress Reports, including certified arts teachers, cultural partnerships, dedicated arts rooms and compliance with State arts mandates, so that parents can fully evaluate all schools.
· Expanding outreach to cultural organizations as a way to build schools’ capacity to provide arts education through possible partnerships.
· Adopting a “no-net loss” of space policy when district schools are co-located with other district or charter schools to preserve existing dedicated arts classrooms. Plans for future construction should also include dedicated arts spaces.
“A well-rounded education that encourages creativity in tandem with a broad range of knowledge and skills is critical for our students’ success in the classroom and beyond,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “Having access to a great arts education – and a committed and passionate arts teacher – is integral. We will work to provide schools with the support they need to offer dedicated art classes that our students deserve.”
“The Comptroller’s report clearly highlights persistent inequities in the delivery of arts education across the city school system,” said Eric Pryor, Executive Director of The Center for Arts Education. “Every student should be entitled to attend a school with a rich curriculum that includes the arts no matter what neighborhood they reside in. With new city leadership committed to equity, and a new chancellor who understands the importance of arts instruction, we now have an excellent opportunity to ensure students receive the well-rounded education promised to them by state law.”
“I thank Comptroller Stringer for taking the lead on unveiling the disparity in access to arts education in Brooklyn and across our City. The arts are not a luxury to be enjoyed by some of our students; they are a necessity to be studied by all,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “Creative thinking stimulates a young person’s academic potential and puts them a positive social and emotional path. I am particularly troubled by the news that Central Brooklyn schools are especially deficient in arts teachers and resources. I intend to work closely with Comptroller Stringer and all our arts stakeholders to make sure every child in Brooklyn has the education and enrichment they deserve.”
“Making sure that the arts are included in our schools at every age level is essential in providing a well-rounded education,” said New York City Council Majority Leader and Chair of the Committee on Cultural Affairs Jimmy Van Bramer. “I applaud Comptroller Stringer’s report which highlights the very large need for arts instructors in all of our schools. I look forward to working with him to make sure that all school children get a well-rounded education that includes access to arts educators.”