State of the Arts

A Plan to Boost Arts Education in New York City Schools

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Schools Without Any Certified Arts Teacher
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Source: NYC Department of Education, U.S. Census Bureau
While current findings are relatively consistent with previous years’ data from the DOE’s Annual Arts in Schools Reports, the NYC Comptroller’s Office recognizes that individual schools may have made changes in the numbers of certified arts teachers, arts and cultural partnerships and arts spaces since the release of these reports.

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State of the Arts: A Plan to Boost Arts Education in New York City Schools


State of the Arts Press:

Arts Education Lacking in Low-Income Areas of New York City, Report Says
New York Times

Report: Arts instruction lacking in NYC
Wall Street Journal

City schools paint poor picture of art instruction: controller
New York Daily News

City Comptroller Report Finds Art In Public Schools is Lacking
NY1: http

Interactive Map Shows Which NYC Schools Don’t Have Arts Teachers
Gothamist

One in seven of city’s high schools provide inadequate arts ed
New York Post

Report Finds State Of The Arts At NYC Public Schools Lacking In Lower Income Neighborhoods
CBS

NYS Budget Pushback; NSA Updates; Twitter Co-Founder; Scott Stringer
WNYC

Report: Arts education lacking in low-income New York City neighborhoods
Metro

Comptroller’s report finds arts education lacking in city’s public schools
Staten Island Advance

Rise & Shine: Poll shows New Yorkers want de Blasio to focus on schools
Chalkbeat

One Out of Every Five Public Schools in New York City Doesn’t Have an Art Teacher
Complex

Report: Arts instruction lacking in NYC
The Washington Times

Art missing at boro schools
Times Ledger

Fix the picture on arts ed
Crian’s New York

If the children can’t come to the gallery …
The Irish Times

The Country’s Cultural Capital Has a Big Arts-Education Problem
The Atlantic

Hire more arts teachers now
Daily News

City Budget Includes Additional $23 Million for School Arts Funding
NY1

I. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Arts education has long been recognized by experts around the world as having a tremendously positive influence on children in terms of both academic attainment and future employment. The skills learned from arts education are more relevant today than ever before, as New York City’s economy is increasingly focused on industries that value creativity, innovation, and problem solving.

Despite these widely-acknowledged benefits and clearly established mandates in New York State Education law, the provision of arts education in New York City’s public schools has become both inequitable and underfunded. This result follows a decade of disinvestment and disincentives, and a school accountability system based on federal and state priorities that has long failed to fully recognize the value of comprehensive arts education.

Figures from the New York City Department of Education’s (DOE) annual Arts in Schools Reports show a 47 percent decline in spending on arts and cultural vendors, and an 84 percent cut in arts supplies and equipment over the past seven years. While principals have had access to supplemental “Fair Student Funding” (FSF) that can be used for arts education, many principals have opted to divert FSF funds to test preparation and other non-arts related areas.

The sad reality is that these reductions have fallen disproportionately on the City’s lower income neighborhoods, especially the South Bronx and Central Brooklyn. While these two neighborhoods are home to just 31 percent of schools, this report found that:

  • More than 42 percent of schools that lack either full-time or part-time certified arts teachers are located in the South Bronx and Central Brooklyn;
  • Nearly half of the schools that lack both a certified arts teacher and a partnership with an arts or cultural organization are located in the South Bronx and Central Brooklyn; and
  • Thirty-four percent of all City schools that do not have dedicated arts rooms are located in the South Bronx and Central Brooklyn.

With the arrival of new leadership at the New York City Department of Education (DOE), now is an ideal time to identify challenges that exist to restoring arts education to all of our neighborhoods and to offer some recommendations on how to achieve that goal.

This report provides a first-ever school-by-school breakdown of the state of arts education in the public schools, and overlays that information against the data on the city’s economic landscape. The Office of New York City Comptroller, Scott M. Stringer, used the most recent arts data provided by the DOE for general education public schools, grades K-12, to assess three areas that shed light on schools’ capacity to deliver arts services and programming to their students:

  1. Whether schools employ full-time and/or part-time certified arts teachers;
  2. Whether schools have formal partnerships with arts and cultural organizations; and
  3. Whether schools have dedicated rooms used solely for instruction in core arts areas, including the visual arts, music, theater and dance.

Additional findings include:

  • In total, 419 schools in New York City (28 percent) lack a full-time, certified arts teacher, including 38 percent of all elementary schools (232), 22 percent of all middle schools (59), and 20 percent of all high schools (76), despite the fact that New York State law requires that students in grades 7-12 be taught by certified arts teachers.
  • 306 schools (20 percent) have neither a full- nor a part-time certified arts teacher, including 30 percent of all elementary schools (182), 13 percent of all middle schools (34), and 14 percent of all high schools (53).
  • 10 percent of schools have no dedicated arts room, including 11 percent of elementary schools, 8 percent of middle schools, and10 percent of high schools.

In the cultural capital of the world, arts education and the opportunities it provides should be equally accessible to all. The report makes the following recommendations to reach that goal:

  • Increase transparency and accountability in arts education funding. The DOE should create a separate budget line for arts education funding and it should prioritize that spending at schools that have yet to meet basic standards set by the city and state.
  • Promote strategies that build schools’ capacity to have at least one certified arts teacher on staff. The DOE should work with schools serving students in grades 7-12 to come into compliance with state mandates for certified arts teachers. Where feasible, small schools should be encouraged to share arts teachers and teaching artists.
  • Broaden DOE accountability framework, including School Progress Reports, to include arts education. As part of a larger review of School Progress Reports, the DOE should include information in every school profile about certified arts teachers, partnerships with arts and cultural organizations, dedicated arts rooms, and schools’ adherence to state mandates in arts instruction.
  • Build schools’ capacity to provide a robust arts education by expanding outreach to potential cultural partners. The DOE should provide additional supports to schools lacking cultural partnerships, including helping to connect and pair them with arts and cultural organizations. The DOE currently hosts one “Cultural Fair” each year to encourage arts and cultural organizations to partner with city schools. Those events should be expanded to include similar fairs in all five boroughs at least once a year.
  • Adopt a “no-net loss” of space policy as part of larger effort to increase art room capacity. Although finding or creating new space for dedicated arts rooms in New York City will always be a challenge, the DOE should ensure that there is “no net loss” of arts rooms when district schools are co-located with other district or charter schools.

In the end, providing every child in New York City with a robust arts education should be more than an aspiration. It should be viewed as an essential component of a 21st century curriculum – one that all our students should have the opportunity to enjoy.