Richard Kessler, Executive Director, the Center for Arts Education, Issues Statement on the Release of the New York City Department of Education Annual Arts in Schools Report 2007 - 2008 : "Report makes clear that the school system is still failing to provide students with the arts education they are entitled to by law"

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The Center for Arts Education (CAE) commends the New York City Department of Education (DOE) for issuing the second annual Arts in Schools Report, which provides the public with helpful information about arts education offerings in public schools. However, the release of today’s report makes clear that the school system is still failing to provide students with the arts education they are entitled to by law. With budgets being slashed this year and presumably next year, and an increased focus on testing and test preparation, there is a fear that arts education will disappear from the schools.

safety net for arts education

There is no doubt that the NYC DOE's Office of Arts and Special Projects is doing the very best job possible under policies they do not control. While CAE recognizes that strides have been made in some schools to bolster arts education offerings, it's disheartening to learn that in New York City, the cultural capital of the world – renowned for its Broadway theaters, world class museums and thriving music and art scene – city public schools are failing to provide students the education they deserve.

According to the current report, only 8 percent of elementary schools reported offering the minimum that is required by the State of New York, up from 4 percent the previous year. While last year's report found that only 29 percent of middle school students completed the state requirements in the arts, this key barometer is noticeably absent from this year's report. Schools are budgeting less on the arts overall, with spending on services by art and cultural partners down by over half a million dollars, and a 63 percent decrease in spending on arts supplies and equipment. Spending on the arts relative to other budget areas has also decreased. It is critical to note that the data predates the current economic crisis. With the eradication of Project ARTS in 2006, the NYC DOE did away with a critical "safety net for arts education," that required principals to commit to spending a minimal amount of a school's budget on the arts. As a first and simple step to begin making real progress towards restoring quality arts education for every child, we urge the city to once again renew its commitment to the city's school children by ensuring that every school receives a dedicated funding stream for arts education.

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Susan Johnson
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