A New Era for Arts in New York City Schools?

Posted by Doug Israel On February - 26 - 2014
Doug Israel

Doug Israel

Over the course of the past several years, big cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles and Seattle have been advancing ambitious plans to expand access to arts education and creative learning for public school students. Here in New York City – home of the nation’s largest school district – with a new mayor and schools chancellor, and a growing chorus of parents calling for the inclusion of arts in the school day, there is momentum gathering that could lead to a much-overdue expansion of arts and music in city schools.

This December, at the close of his 12 years in office, New York City’s former Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed into law a City Council bill that would require the Department of Education to provide annual data on arts instruction that advocates believe will help identify gaps in the delivery of arts education and drive improvements in what is being offered at schools across the city.

While strides were made in expanding access to arts instruction at many schools across the city over the past decade, large gaps persist in the provision of music, dance, theater and visual arts in the over 1,800 New York City public schools.

That is why on the heels of the successful effort to pass the arts reporting legislation, advocates and leaders from a diverse cross section of New York, released a statement calling on the city to ensure that every child, in every part of the city, receives arts instruction as part of their K-12 education.

The statement – entitled “Every Child in Every School: A Vision for Arts and Creativity in New York City Public Schools” –notes that New York City – with its rich and diverse array of arts and cultural experiences and organizations – is uniquely positioned to be the leader in arts and creative education.

Highlighting that “research shows quality arts instruction can enhance cognitive and social abilities, improve academic performance and keep students engaged in school and on track to graduation,”

the statement calls for instruction in visual arts, dance, music, and theater by certified arts teachers, as well as partnerships with city arts and cultural institutions and adequate resources, supplies, instruments, facilities and technology at every school.

The effort is part of a sustained advocacy push that started this past spring to ensure arts education is a priority for the new administration. This latest effort has the broadest support – comprised of over 100 organizations both within and outside the arts and education spheres. The growing list of participating organizations range from those committed to ensuring the equitable delivery of arts in schools such as The Center for Arts Education, Urban Arts Partnership and Lincoln Center Education, to the civil rights-focused New York Civil Liberties Union, to social and economic justice organization Make the Road New York, to the labor union Associated Musicians of Greater New York – Local 802.

On the campaign trail this past fall, new Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged to establish a four-year goal to make sure that every child in every school receives the arts education required by state law.

The new law passed in December, which will require specific reporting on whether or not individual schools are providing the state-mandated instruction in the arts, can help provide a roadmap to reach this goal.

The new administration could send a clear message to parents and school leaders about their commitment to providing equal access to a broad-based rigorous education by incorporating this information into the city’s school accountability system—along the lines of the creative school certification being implemented in Chicago.

The coalition stands poised to help the mayor deliver on his promise for New York City public school children.

2 Responses to “A New Era for Arts in New York City Schools?”

  1. Hello Doug,

    I am a teaching artist with CAE. I’ve been working as a teaching artist with many arts and ed companies (teaching all the arts disciplines, but mainly theatre) for the last 15 years. I am currently running a Kickstarter campaign to take my solo play, Running Into Me to Edinburgh and do workshops with a group of young people there. I’m wondering if you could go to my site, check out the video and if you are inspired, talk about my campaign and my work with your colleagues. I’m quite far away from my goal with about 9 days to go, but with the help of the the arts and education community, I believe I can still make it. Here’s the link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/366812430/send-an-inspiring-story-around-the-world
    Let me know what you think.

    Thank you!
    Vickie Tanner
    http://www.playsolo.net

    • Doug Israel says:

      Thanks for sharing Vickie. Sounds like a great opportunity. We hope you meet your financial goals on kickstarter. The Center for Arts Education will be happy to share with our followers via social media. Break a leg.

Leave a Reply

*

ARTSblog holds week-long Blog Salons, a series of posts by guest bloggers, that focus on an overarching theme within a core area of Americans for the Arts' work. Here are links to the most recent Salons:

Arts Education

Teaching Artists

Early Arts Education

Common Core Standards

Quality, Engagement & Partnerships

Emerging Leaders

Charting the Future of the Arts

Taking Communities to the Next Level

New Methods & Models

Public Art

Best Practices

Evaluation

Arts Marketing

Audience Engagement

Winning Audiences

Powered by Community

Animating Democracy

Arts & the Military

Scaling Up Programs & Projects

Social Impact & Evaluation

Humor & Social Change

Private Sector Initatives

Arts & Business Partnerships

Business Models in the Arts

Local Arts Agencies

Cultural Districts

Economic Development

Trends, Collaborations & Audiences

Art in Rural Communities

Alec Baldwin and Nigel Lythgoe talk about the state of the arts in America at Arts Advocacy Day 2012. The acclaimed actor and famed producer discuss arts education and what inspires them.