Arts education lacking — or outright absent — in poor NYC schools

The New York Times reports today that finds arts education is seriously lacking — or absent outright — in many city schools. And that shortage disproportionally affects poor and minority students. Their story is based on a report by Comptroller Scott Stringer:

“We treat arts classroom space the way we treat janitorial space — it’s just expendable. And it shouldn’t be,” Mr. Stringer said in an interview on Sunday, noting that instruction in the arts is associated with higher student grades and rates of college enrollment. “This is not a toolshed or a closet; this is where the next great artist or musician is going to happen.”

The shortage is disproportionately acute in low-income areas like the South Bronx and central Brooklyn, according to the report. More than 42 percent of the schools that do not have state-certified arts teachers are clustered in those areas.

Stringer says adding one full-time art teacher to each school would cost the city $26 million. That’s equivalent to one-tenth of one percent of education spending in New York City.

The comptroller’s office will post a searchable database on its site so parents can look at what offerings are available at their child’s school and compare that to what’s available elsewhere.

Stringer blames sharing space with charter schools and an increased emphasis on standardized testing. “We’ve spent so much time over the last 10 years teaching to the test, and lost in the shuffle was arts teachers, arts curriculum and arts space,” Stringer told the Times.

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