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?
My plan for democratizing education calls for bringing local control back to our schools. Since schools will have more of a say in the education of their students, CR-SP will be on the forefront of their minds. It is our diversity in our neighborhoods that make them vibrant places to live and I want that for our students as well. The arts are a great avenue for thought about diversity and how everyone has a role to play. Arts education should not be a stale policy that comes from my office but one that is protected and nurtured by the school administration and school board. The arts are a wonderful way for students to share their culture and their own unique identity.
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?
I believe our city can provide a huge role for reviving jobs in the arts and teaching in our schools is a great way to do it. It enlightens our students to the opportunities the arts provide and it can inspire those who are out of work and foster creativity throughout our city. When I restore funding for arts education, I will meet with our partners to find ways that city schools can more effectively use those funds so more students receive the arts education they are entitled to.
10. Will you commit to requesting and participating in a hearing to understand why these learning requirements are not being met?
Yes, I will request and participate in those hearings if our arts education requirements are not being met at any point.
11. How could the city ensure that all of our public school students receive instruction from qualified instructors?
If we are going to increase arts education funding, we need art teachers to provide that instruction. I will work with and agitate for increasing the pool of art instructors in New York City schools. We need a system that does not push people away from teaching but draws them in. As a guest lecturer in the public school system, I found our system daunting and unfriendly. We need to make it easier for qualified specialists to teach in our schools even if it is on a part-time or guest teacher basis. I will push our Dept. of Education to make these changes so we can take advantage of the huge arts community available to us in New York City.
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?
I will fight to democratize the NYC Department of Education so that you never have to wait on any mayor of New York City to ensure that your children get the arts education they need. While the democratization process is ongoing, I will publicly call on the NYC DOE to properly enforce and implement city and state arts learning mandates. This enforcement will be a condition of employment for the Department chancellor. I will also call on the State Assembly to fully fund any promised arts education programs for our students. This is beyond an educational issue for me. I view this as a mental health issue as well. It is critical that our students receive help to recover from COVID induced mental anguish. I am convinced that the arts play a vital role in recovery for our students. State funds for mental health should be made available to be used for arts programs to take advantage of their therapeutic nature for people.
8. Would you support the restoration of per-capita dedicated funding for arts education in all city schools? Why or why not?
I fully support the restoration of per-capita funding for arts education in all city schools. Some students find the best way to express themselves is through the arts and it can be very therapeutic for everyone’s mental health. We must end the false belief that arts education is lesser in value to students than other types of education.
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?
I believe art funding is being robbed by principals to fulfill other budget needs due to unfunded mandates. My administration will push back on all mandates at the state level unless the state commits to funding those mandates at 105% for the first year with continued budget line items in the 5 year forward plan. Art funding and education is more important than do-nothing administrative positions that are required to satisfy someone in Albany or City Council. Cutting the arts budget by 70% is not sustainable when most city schools were not providing the required art education before the pandemic.
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?
As Mayor I would do my due diligence to ensure that organizations led by people of color are not underfunded so they have the ability to fully support the creative minds of young people in their communities. I would personally oversee that funds are used for their intended purpose and create a sustainable budget for those organizations to work with.
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 don’t see having an arts period as crowding or interfering with academic achievement. It needs to be part of the curriculum as it is an integral part of academic achievement. Treating the arts like it is an extra “thing” to squeeze in is the exact opposite of how the arts in schools should be perceived. Students need some form of art in their lives. Students listen to music , they dance, they write creatively to relieve stress in their daily lives. Personally I feel treating the arts as an outsider in the public education system needs to end. The arts need to be integral in the curriculum of the NYC public school system.
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 would make sure our public schools have the supplies needed to teach music, sculpting, painting, dance theater, and visual arts to name a few. I will support local district efforts to bring in various types of art therapy, such as writing, poetry, music, and drama therapy. I will allow local schools to decide for themselves what art therapy solutions they wish to engage in but would strongly encourage it as this therapy will help in healing trauma. Idealistically, I would like to see an art therapist in every public school.