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City’s annual ‘Arts in Schools’ report highlights new initiatives

Summer Quest students at P.S. 154 decorate egg cartons to use at their farmer's market.
Summer Quest students at P.S. 154 decorate egg cartons to use at their farmer's market.

A push to bolster arts education in city schools has already led to training for 1,000 educators and museum access for hundreds of middle schoolers, according to the Department of Education’s latest “Arts in Schools Report.”

The annual report offers a detailed accounting of the arts classes offered last year in city schools, and advocates have typically cited it to argue that city students do not have adequate access to arts instruction.

This year, the reception has been warmer, with advocates celebrating new investments in the arts by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Carmen Fariña, who both have extolled the value of arts education.

De Blasio announced an additional $23 million for arts education in May, then specified in July that the money would go to hire 120 new teachers, improve and open facilities, and help teachers buy supplies. And Fariña has made arts education a priority since early in her tenure. “We’re going to say to people, the arts are important and there is a compliance issue,” she said in April. “For a long time, I think it wasn’t on people’s radars, but it’s certainly on mine.”

The new report fleshes out their plans on two pages that list the Office of Arts and Special Program’s “new and pivotal supports to begin to address the issues of equity and access to arts education.” They include a partnership between Lincoln Center and Hunter College to help working arts become certified to teach in city schools; a push to enhance arts education for students with disabilities and English language learners; and efforts to connect elementary and middle schools so students can build on their arts education as they age.

“We share the confidence of the chancellor that next year at this time, with the city’s new financial commitment to arts education, our schools will have made even greater strides in improving access to arts instruction and addressing the inequities that exist across the city,” Eric Pryor, executive director of the Center for Arts Education, said in a statement. He added that the city had already made gains in the second half of 2014, a time that the report does not cover.

The full report is below:

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