A report by the state controller’s office shows the city’s efforts to boost art instruction in the public schools are paying off
The study, completed earlier this month by New York State Controller Thomas P. DiNapoli’s office, examined city Education Department data showing 95% of surveyed 2014 city high school grads completed mandatory arts lessons, up from roughly half of students who completed the lessons in a similar 2011 audit.
The report also found the city is doing a better job keeping track of whether kids meet the state’s rules for arts education, which include minimum instructions levels and requirements for certified arts teachers.
“The DOE should be commended for making progress in ensuring students get required arts education,” said DiNapoli.
City Education officials said the huge increase in kids who met state art standards was partially due to better tracking. But an extra $23 million for arts instruction in the education department’s 2015 budget has paid for new art teachers, programs and facilities in the public schools this year, said Paul King, executive director of the department’s Office of Arts and Special Projects.
A new training program for teachers, called Arts Mondays, provides monthly sessions in dance, music, theater and visual arts.
“The new Arts Mondays program is a critical piece of our work to give support to teachers in providing all students with rich and rigorous arts learning,” King said. “This brand-new program brings our art teachers together to share best practices, reflect on their own work with colleagues, and learn from each other.”
Mayor de Blasio vowed on the campaign trail to give every city kid an arts education that meets state standards. He hasn’t quite reached that goal yet, but arts advocates believe the city’s expanded support could signal a new era in the public schools.
“Arts education took a pretty big hit over the last 10 to 15 years,” said Doug Israel, director of research and policy at the non-profit Center for Arts Education.”There’s no longer a dedicated funding line and the increased focus on testing and test prep made it really hard for principals to invest in arts education in city schools.”
He said the city’s recent investment in arts education is a “game changer” for students.
“All the data shows students are more engaged when they have arts as part of the school day curriculum,” Israel said.
Reprinted for NY Daily News Article November 16, 2015.