13. How will you ensure that arts education leadership and instruction better reflects the population of 1.1 million public school students? What will you do to ensure that arts education reflects the cultures, values, and learning abilities of students engaged in it?
I am fully committed to creating culturally responsive schools. I intend to appoint a DOE Chancellor who will be a champion for socially transformative holistic public education and my administration will require culturally responsive and anti-racist curriculum and education, including ensuring all educators and DOE employees are trained in inclusive curriculum, pedagogy, assessments and policies. Additionally, I will advocate for the inclusion of year-round cultural enrichment of the struggles, triumphs and movements led by the diverse communities within our city. This would apply to all curriculum and most certainly to our arts education. Further, as I discussed above, I believe we should hire more certified arts teachers. The city should approach these hirings with CR-SP goals in mind; we should prioritize hiring teachers from the city who are prepared to implement a culturally responsive curriculum.
12. How can the city play a more active role in reviving jobs in the creative industry and broadening access to the arts in local communities?
My economic platform focuses on building a solidarity economy, meaning that people and communities are prioritized before developers and large corporations. The arts are an invaluable tool for cultural education and socialization. I believe that grassroots community efforts must be prioritized in our recovery plan. I support a tax relief plan for small businesses, including nonprofit arts institutions. Rather than focusing on Wall Street or large corporations as the solution to our recovery, we should focus on providing tax relief, subsidies, and low-to-no interest loans to our small businesses so they can jumpstart our recovery by bringing jobs back to New Yorkers. Further, we should target outreach and City assistance for these programs towards neighborhoods most impacted by the pandemic. This will help to ensure that information and language barriers do not prevent valuable small businesses from getting the relief they deserve. One of the quickest things we can do to support these institutions is an immediate commercial rent moratorium. This is a significant cost for every organization, and a suspension would allow them to regain their footing and rehire artists. In addition to instituting a moratorium, my administration would seek to enact commercial rent stabilization so that organizations can plan out their long-term goals without worrying about an unreasonable rent hike.
Further, a Morales administration would lobby tirelessly at the federal and state level to demand more support. This new stimulus bill will be a great help, but it is not enough. I will fight this so our arts institutions and our communities get the investments they need. I would also ensure my administration restores and expands funding to arts and cultural institutions, particularly arts groups that primarily serve communities hardest hit by the pandemic. Rather than developing a list or arts groups in a silo, my administration would actively consult with communities to determine which institutions are most important to them. Further, I would continue to encourage schools to partner with arts groups. Students would not only benefit from more arts instruction, but they could be assigned projects that simultaneously teach them valuable skills and help these institutions solve pressing problems.
11. How could the city ensure that all of our public school students receive instruction from qualified instructors?
The city should commit more funding to hiring certified arts teachers, as we did in 2014. One potential way to fund these hires is by removing police from schools, which would free up $450 million. For a fraction of that, we could double the number of certified arts teachers in our schools. Additionally, as Mayor I would work closely with the DOE to ensure that the transition away from remote teaching goes smoothly. This includes ensuring that arts teachers are instructing arts classes and that students have access to quality arts education.
10. Will you commit to requesting and participating in a hearing to understand why these learning requirements are not being met?
9. With hundreds of schools out of compliance with NYS Education Department instructional requirements, will you publicly call on the NYC DOE to properly enforce and implement city and state arts learning mandates?
Yes, I am committed to using my office and platform to demand more from Albany. I will work with students, parents, educators, and advocacy groups to fight for reform.
8. Would you support the restoration of per-capita dedicated funding for arts education in all city schools? Why or why not?
Yes, every student deserves equal access to the arts in their education. Too often, schools serving Black and Brown children are repeatedly underfunded, then required to use all of their resources to teach to a test, while more holistic education practices are thrown out the window. Restoring per capita arts funding would begin to rectify this. However, we should go beyond per capita funding and work towards equitable funding, where the students most in need have the most support. Wealthier students may have access to the arts through extracurricular activities, while lower income students may have much more limited opportunities to explore the arts. All students should absolutely have arts education in their public schools, but schools with more low-income students likely need more funding to account for this gap.
7. What would you do to ensure that every school in the city has the resources to provide every student with a quality education that includes the arts?
Schools will be a top priority in my budget. It is unacceptable that we repeatedly find more money for the NYPD and for tax breaks for developers, but not to ensure that our students have a holistic education. My administration is prepared to expand City revenue in several ways. This includes partnering with local electeds and organizations as we push the state and federal government to equitably tax the rich to generate the funds we need to recover and create a sustainably equitable city. I would also work to increase municipal spending power by introducing a city complementary currency and creating a public bank to generate municipal credit abilities. Additionally, I will work alongside a coalition of cities that will pressure the federal government to provide municipalities with automatic stabilizing spending policies. I also am committed to redistributing City revenue from the NYPD into social services. I plan to divest at least $3 billion from the NYPD and reinvesting that into our schools and public services. These additional funds will go directly into expanding and improving social services, with priority given to our schools. I would also restore and expand funding to the Department of Cultural Affairs, particularly the Cultural After School Adventures program.
Of course, giving schools more funding does not necessarily ensure that school arts programs are well funded. To do that, I would work with my DOE chancellor to systematically evaluate the quality of every school’s arts program. DOE can then work with superintendents and principals to appropriately channel funding towards arts education and programming.
6. Studies show that arts and cultural organizations led by people of color are often underfunded, resulting in limited capacity to provide critical support to young people and communities around NYC. What will you do to provide more leadership around an equitable distribution of resources to ensure their sustainability and growth?
My economic platform focuses on building a solidarity economy, meaning that people and communities are prioritized before developers and large corporations. The arts are an invaluable tool for cultural education and socialization. I believe that grassroots community efforts must be prioritized in our recovery plan. In all communities, but especially in our immigrant communities and communities of color, the arts are a critical part of a neighborhood’s ecosystem.
As Mayor, I would ensure my administration restores and expands funding to arts and cultural institutions, particularly arts groups that primarily serve communities hardest hit by the pandemic. Rather than developing a list of arts groups
in a silo, my administration would actively consult with communities to determine which institutions are most important to them. Further, I would encourage schools to partner with arts groups. Students would not only benefit from more arts instruction, but they could be assigned projects that simultaneously teach them valuable skills and help these institutions solve pressing problems.
5. As students, principals, teachers, and school partners work to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on academic achievement, what role do you see the arts playing? What strategies do you envision for broadening the school-day curriculum so instructional time in the arts is not crowded out of the school day?
Part of building environments where our students can thrive is making self expression through the arts available to everyone. I want to use creative arts as a type of therapy to help children deal with the effects this pandemic has had on their mental health and the ways they interact with their peers. Art therapy is a great way for people to express themselves and deal with their trauma and challenges in a way that makes them feel heard. Creating space where kids and teens can work through the effects COVID-19 has had on them is very important to me. Additionally, I would encourage schools to partner with arts groups. Students would not only benefit from more arts instruction, but they could be assigned projects that simultaneously teach them valuable skills and help these institutions solve pressing problems.
Broadly speaking, I strongly support moving away from standardized testing as the primary way to evaluate students. We have seen that it encourages schools to orient all education towards this test, rather than focusing on holistic education. As Mayor, I will work with DOE to create schools where testing is not the primary focus of schools, allowing us to build more room in the curriculum for arts, physical activity, and community engagement.
4. The long-term effects of COVID-19 on students and schools will take years to understand. It is widely acknowledged that arts education provides authentic ways for students to build long-term social-emotional competencies (such as self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, empathy, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making). How will you provide school communities with the tools and resources needed to confront and address trauma while fostering a welcoming, supportive environment?
Creating supportive, healthy environments in public schools would be one of my top priorities as Mayor. I would put schools first in line for investment in a budget that centers the needs of our students and teachers. Creating a more equitable school system is one of my top 3 priorities as Mayor and, in my first 100 days, I will execute an Educational Equity Executive Order to finally desegregate schools, eliminate disparities, and hold agencies accountable for inequitable educational outcomes. A primary part of eliminating disparities and increasing equity is addressing imbalances and injustices in school funding. Low-income and predominantly Black and brown schools need the most funding and, too often, they get the least. As Mayor, I will immediately direct my administration to examine disparities in funding, resources, and services in relation to demographics and socioeconomic status, so that we can quickly rectify those gaps and build a funding scheme that corrects these inequities in the long term. I will also marshal revenue streams, including rerouting funds from the NYPD, to fully fund the school capital plan to allow for the elimination of school overcrowding; for class size reduction; to eliminate all facilities to be free of mold, asbestos, and lead; and upgrade each building to be properly ventilated and accessible to students with disabilities. These issues are disproportionately present in Black and brown schools, and the pandemic has only made the situation worse. Full funding is an important step in addressing these injustices. Students must feel supported in order to begin healing, and that means ensuring schools have the resources they need.