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?
We need culturally responsive education — and a big part is diversifying our teaching staff. Our teaching workforce and our curriculum need to reflect our students’ lived experience. Only 40% of our teaching staff in NYC are people of color, in a system that’s 80% students of color. A major reason for the lack of diversity within our teaching staff is the lack of support for new teachers – financially and when it comes to training.
Each year, significant numbers of educators leave our schools, whether they leave the City, the public school system, or the teaching profession completely. I believe that too often our schools lose good teachers – talented and promising educators – because their training did not adequately prepare them for the very real challenges they came to face in classrooms. To address this teacher churn, I have proposed a landmark teacher residency program, the largest in the nation, that would make an unparalleled investment in teacher preparation. Under my proposal, the City would recruit 1,000 aspiring teachers from diverse backgrounds to work in New York City classrooms for a full year alongside a highly skilled mentor teacher. These residents would be paid a modest stipend during the program while they complete their studies and earn full certification. The program would help us to add diversity to our teaching ranks while also making sure our newest teachers get the support they deserve.
We also need to ensure our projects, books and resources are grounded in the rich diversity of New York’s student population. That needs to involve including arts-based teaching strategy used by non-arts teachers to engage students in learning, it needs to include creating outlets for students during the school days such as free sketching and journaling time, and other curricular tools to ensure arts is integrated across a reorientation toward culturally responsive education.
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?
The arts are essential to our city’s economy, our city’s diversity, our city’s cultural vibrancy and the holistic health of our society. The next Mayor must understand that supporting the arts means supporting our diversity. The next Mayor must understand that supporting the arts means supporting our workers and economy — and strengthening the backbone of our city.
The City can play an extremely active role in reviving jobs in the creative industry, and I’ve outlined a few ideas in my economic recovery plan which include: providing $1 billion in direct relief to businesses, venues, and individuals; mobilizing the City to purchase 250,000 tickets at venues around the city and distribute them to frontline workers and students; opening City grants and financial supports to individual artists and for venue operation costs — not just capital costs; and converting vacant retail space into art studios and hubs along commercial corridors throughout the five boroughs.
One of the core challenges artists and people in arts education face is the cost of living in New York. I have a housing plan to build a new generation of deeply affordable housing. But, for artists in particular, rent isn’t just about housing — it’s also about workspace and rehearsal space. One way forward to supporting our artist community while bringing them deeper into our education network is to connect artists to affordable space to rehearse and practice in every neighborhood of every borough — specifically schools. Opening up public school theaters and gymnasiums to dancers, musicians, and actors during the nights, weekends, and summer months will be transformative. There are over 1,000 of these spaces across the city, they are located in every neighborhood, and they have separate entrances apart from the rest of the school building. There’s no reason we shouldn’t make this vital resource available to our arts community and use it to create more opportunities for our students to get involved and connected to local arts communities.
11. How could the city ensure that all of our public school students receive instruction from qualified instructors?
As Mayor, I’ll ensure there is at least one full-time certified art teacher in every school by the end of 2022. At the heart of my approach is my proposal for the nation’s largest teacher residency program — and a goal of minimizing teacher churn and recruiting 7,000 new teachers. Under my proposal, the City would recruit aspiring teachers to work in New York City classrooms for a full year alongside a mentor teacher. These residents would be paid a modest stipend during the program while they complete their studies and earn full certification. The program would help us to add diversity to our teaching ranks while also making sure our newest teachers get the support they deserve.
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, absolutely. Every child, in every neighborhood in the city, deserves to attend a school that can offer them a complete educational experience — arts included. Acting decisively to correct the current imbalance is not just about the legal obligations at play — it is about ensuring that our education system lives up to the ideals of inclusivity and equity that are at its heart.
8. Would you support the restoration of per-capita dedicated funding for arts education in all city schools? Why or why not?
Yes. Our City is poised to finally fund schools to provide high quality education for every student. With the state’s commitment to fully fund Foundation Aid for schools along with significant funds from the federal government to support schools as they recover from the pandemic, there is no better time to fully commit to dedicated funding for arts education across our schools. Arts education cannot be viewed as a luxury item reserved for the lucky few. It is a vital part of student learning and must be preserved in every child’s school experience.
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?
Among the best ways to increase diversity and equity in the arts, expand cultural audiences long-term, and fortify our cultural sector is to build talent and instill an appreciation for the arts at a young age. As I stated earlier, as Comptroller I worked with advocates to win $24 million a year in baselined funding to help improve arts education.
As Mayor, I’ll go further — because what we need in City Hall is someone who will prioritize arts and other hand-on education. We need to focus particularly on equity, and ensure that students in low-income elementary and middle schools, as well as those with a high number of limited-English-proficiency students are provided the quality education they are entitled to. To deliver, as Mayor, I’ll ensure there is at least one full-time certified arts teacher in every school by the end of 2022. I will also expand the number of artists residencies and the number of cultural organizations that maintain partnerships with public schools.
I’ll do that by creating a separate budget line for arts in education to ensure schools get the basic staffing, facilities, and equipment they need as well as partnering with New York’s arts and cultural organizations to leverage space and expand enrichment opportunities. I’ll also work with school leaders to ensure this money is dedicated to arts 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?
For recovery of the arts and cultural sectors to be truly meaningful, we can’t be satisfied with simply restoring what we had. We have to acknowledge and address the barriers that have prevented too many New Yorkers from entering and thriving in the art world. High rents for living and work space, tuition costs, meager healthcare and job benefits, ballooning operating expenses — these are all costs that increasingly make New York City an all but impossible place for the once common “struggling artist” to even struggle. To create new on-ramps into the arts and broader supports for those already in the workplace, I will triple the number of city-backed summer jobs in the arts, require City grant recipients to pay decent wages, double down on arts education in city schools, and work with schools, vacant commercial spaces, and houses of worship to create new, long-term rehearsal and exhibition spaces.
As Comptroller, I have worked to increase opportunities for M/WBEs seeking to do business with the city. Through my M/WBE University program, my office has worked directly with M/WBEs to better understand barriers and offer valuable support in navigating the procurement process. Additionally, I issued an annual Making the Grade report card for each City agency, measuring how successful each agency is on spending and contracting with M/WBEs. In FY 2020, less than 6 percent of spending at the Department of Education went to M/WBEs. As mayor I would work to develop a targeted plan to work with the DOE and other agencies that have low M/WBE utilization.
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?
I believe that delivering a robust arts education — as well as additional afterschool (I’ve proposed universal free afterschool) and physical education, and more — is crucial to bringing our kids forward from the pandemic, emotionally and academically. We need both a formal arts curriculum and more free time for expression. Many kids have been dis-engaged from school for over a year, and we need to be creative about how to ensure they have creative outlets in school that help them express and process the experience of COVID.
For example, while I would certainly work to ensure that every school has a dedicated arts instructor and that all students receive required arts programming, I believe we can do more to open opportunities to build the arts into all academic areas. By encouraging partnerships with arts organizations and increased professional development for teachers, schools can create project-based curriculum in nearly any subject that is infused with creativity and active hands-on learning opportunities.
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?
I recently released a 27-point education plan that I believe will take our students from pandemic to lifelong progress and fundamentally transform our educational continuum so that every child has the opportunities they deserve from birth to college or career. In particular, as Mayor, I would address the academic and socio-emotional challenges our 1.1 million public school students are facing — and will continue to shoulder the impacts of for years to come — in the following ways:
- Significantly expand school-based mental health services: Our students and children have experienced enormous loss during this last year, exacerbating the mental health crisis among our youth. Teen suicide is sadly on the rise and in too many schools, students have no where to turn whether they’re in crisis or experiencing mental health stressors. As Mayor, I would triple the number of social workers in schools and ensure every school is staffed with full-time culturally competent and trauma-informed mental health professions at a national standard of 1:250. Additionally, I would expand small social emotional learning advisories in all middle and high schools, and establish a true mental health continuum to connect students to medical care outside the school setting. Last, I would remove NYPD officers from schools to minimize traumatic interventions, particularly for Black and Latinx students.
- Create “Fast Track Benefits” to connect families to services within a trusted environment. Families who qualify for various public benefits often do not apply because they are not connected to resources. To meet families and students in-need where they are — at school — I would ensure a benefit coordinator is in every school, to be an advocate for families in need, connect them to resources — from SNAP to the EITC — and guide families through the benefits application process within a trusted environment.
- Establish free “high dosage tutoring” by creating an NYC Tutoring Corps. Students who have fallen behind during the pandemic need additional attention — and as Mayor, I would mobilize Federal stimulus funds set aside for AmeriCorp and learning loss to launch an NYC tutoring corp to ensure every student has access to high dose group tutoring built into the school day in partnership with higher education institutions like CUNY.