During the week of December 14, 2015, the New York City Department of Education released the Annual Arts in Schools Report for the 2014-2015 school year. The report reflected the first year of data that was available since the city implemented its $23 million annual arts education funding initiative. You can download the entire report here
Among several positive developments noted in this year’s report, the following gains were particularly encouraging:
Funding for school-based arts education increased by almost $32 million last year over the previous year. This reflects not only the annual $23 million financial investment, but also principals committing to increase arts programming in their schools.
There was a citywide increase of 175 arts teachers working in public schools last year. This represents a 7 percent increase over the previous year and the highest level in over a decade;
The percentage of schools that have at least one arts and cultural partnership increased from 84% in 2013-2014 to 87% in 2014-2015.
The lack of arts teachers and cultural partnerships in many of city schools, specifically in the South Bronx, Central Brooklyn, and Harlem, was a key disparity brought to light in Comptroller Scott Stringer’s report issued last year and was a major catalyst for the city’s financial investment.
The hiring and placement of the new arts teachers at those schools represents a very strategic and targeted approach by the Mayor, Chancellor, and Office of Arts and Special Projects, to address these long-standing inequities. And according to Paul King, the director of the arts office, more than 125 additional arts teachers have already been hired this year, continuing the upward and positive trend.
One area of concern highlighted in the report and worth mentioning, was a significant decline in percentage of schools providing the required arts instruction at the elementary school level (55% down to 38%). Part of this was likely due to a new reporting system, but it is certainly something that deserves increased attention.