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.