arts increases

City will hire 100 new arts teachers and invest in facilities with additional $23M

PHOTO: Mary Ellen McIntire
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced how the city would spend an additional $23 million in arts funding at the Bronx Museum of the Arts Tuesday.

The city will divide up an additional $23 million set aside for arts education to hire 120 new teachers, improve and create new facilities, and provide arts teachers with funds to purchase new supplies, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday.

Directing the additional funds, which will bring the city’s total arts spending to about $353 million, is the first step toward bringing the city’s public schools into compliance with state law, which requires all middle and high schools to have some form of arts education, de Blasio said.

“For too long, we had under-invested in arts education and cultural education in our schools,” de Blasio said. “And it was time to right that wrong and do something aggressive about it.”

De Blasio and Chancellor Carmen Fariña said Monday that the money would be spent in a range of ways, following weeks of advocates pushing their own priorities. The department will spend $4.7 million to put 100 arts teachers in pairs of middle schools, $7.5 million to make improvements to facilities, and $1.4 million to expand partnerships with cultural organizations, officials said. The city will also set aside $1,000 for each full-time arts teacher to purchase supplies.

Schools will be able to apply for grants to hire new teachers or improve their arts facilities, and will be encouraged to work with nearby or co-located schools to apply together so that the funding can reach more schools, officials said.

“We’re also asking schools that are co-located to actually talk to each other,” Fariña said. “Because when we look at schools that may be in same building and aren’t getting along, the arts will bring them together.”

During his mayoral campaign, de Blasio vowed to add funding for the arts and set a goal that all students would receive state-mandated arts instruction within four years. All told, this year’s additional money is an approximately 7 percent increase over last year’s citywide arts spending.

The funding increase does not change the policy, put in place under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, that cut a dedicated line for the arts from school budgets, allowing principals to redirect funds to offset budget cuts. The school system lost more than 200 certified arts teachers after that change, according to a report from City Comptroller Scott Stringer.

Stringer, who stood next to de Blasio at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, praised the mayor for swiftly acting on his report, which he said showed “shocking disparities.” One in five city schools do not have a full-time, certified arts teacher, according to his analysis, and schools in the poorest areas of the city were least likely to offer arts education.

The M.S. 215 band played before Mayor Bill de Blasio announced how increased funding for arts education would be spent Tuesday.
PHOTO: Mary Ellen McIntire
The M.S. 215 band played before Mayor Bill de Blasio announced how increased funding for arts education would be spent Tuesday.

Fariña said she believed adding arts programs will increase attendance, especially among middle school students who need something extra to capture their interests. Funding to improve auditoriums and dance floors, even when shared by schools, can help students have more opportunities to perform, she said, increasing students’ confidence.

“How many of you like going on the stage and showing off for people? Absolutely! Why not? So this is an important thing,” Fariña asked members of the M.S. 215 band who played at the announcement, noting that all of the school auditoriums in the city would get some “sprucing up.”

More than $350,000 will also go toward funding a partnership between the Lincoln Center and Hunter College of New York to train 20 new teachers as arts educators over the next three years. While completing the two-year training program, teachers will be able to apply for full-time teaching positions in city schools.

Eric Pryor, executive director of the Center for Arts Education, who has criticized the city’s arts education offerings in recent years, said he was heartened by the new push for partnerships.

“The announcement today shows that they believe in that and they’re investing in helping to broaden what our students receive, particularly our most vulnerable children,” Pryor said.

Weekend Reads

Need classroom decor inspiration? These educators have got you covered.

This school year, students will spend about 1,000 hours in school —making their classrooms a huge part of their learning experience.

We’re recognizing educators who’ve poured on the pizazz to make students feel welcome. From a 9th-grade “forensics lab” decked out in caution tape to a classroom stage complete with lights to get first graders pumped about public speaking, these crafty teachers have gone above and beyond to create great spaces.

Got a classroom of your own to show off? Know someone that should be on this list? Let us know!

Jaclyn Flores, First Grade Dual Language, Rochester, New York
“Having a classroom that is bright, cheerful, organized and inviting allows my students to feel pride in their classroom as well as feel welcome. My students look forward to standing on the stage to share or sitting on special chairs to dive into their learning. This space is a safe place for my students and we take pride in what it has become.”

Jasmine, Pre-K, Las Vegas, Nevada
“My classroom environment helps my students because providing calming colors and a home-like space makes them feel more comfortable in the classroom and ready to learn as first-time students!”

 

Oneika Osborne, 10th Grade Reading, Miami Southridge Senior High School, Miami, Florida
“My classroom environment invites all of my students to constantly be in a state of celebration and self-empowerment at all points of the learning process. With inspirational quotes, culturally relevant images, and an explosion of color, my classroom sets the tone for the day every single day as soon as we walk in. It is one of optimism, power, and of course glitter.”

Kristen Poindexter, Kindergarten, Spring Mill Elementary School, Indianapolis, Indiana
“I try very hard to make my classroom a place where memorable experiences happen. I use songs, finger plays, movement, and interactive activities to help cement concepts in their minds. It makes my teacher heart so happy when past students walk by my classroom and start their sentence with, “Remember when we…?”. We recently transformed our classroom into a Mad Science Lab where we investigated more about our 5 Senses.”

 

Brittany, 9th Grade Biology, Dallas, Texas
“I love my classroom environment because I teach Biology, it’s easy to relate every topic back to Forensics and real-life investigations! Mystery always gets the students going!”

 

Ms. Heaton, First Grade, Westampton, New Jersey
“As an educator, it is my goal to create a classroom environment that is positive and welcoming for students. I wanted to create a learning environment where students feel comfortable and in return stimulates student learning. A classroom is a second home for students so I wanted to ensure that the space was bright, friendly, and organized for the students to be able to use each and every day.”

D’Essence Grant, 8th Grade ELA, KIPP Houston, Houston, Texas
“Intentionally decorating my classroom was my first act of showing my students I care about them. I pride myself on building relationships with my students and them knowing I care about them inside and outside of the classroom. Taking the time to make the classroom meaningful and creative as well building a safe place for our community helps establish an effective classroom setting.”

 

Jayme Wiertzema, Elementary Art, Worthington, Minnesota
“I’m looking forward to having a CLASSROOM this year. The past two years I have taught from a cart and this year my amazing school district allowed me to have a classroom in our school that is busting at the seams! I’m so excited to use my classroom environment to inspire creativity in my students, get to know them and learn from their amazing imaginations in art class!”

 

Melissa Vecchio, 4th Grade, Queens, New York
“Since so much of a student’s time is spent inside their classroom, the environment should be neat, organized, easy to move around in but most of all positive. I love to use a theme to reinforce great behavior. I always give the students a choice in helping to design bulletin boards and desk arrangements. When they are involved they take pride in the classroom, and enjoy being there.”

moving forward

After Confederate flag dispute at Colorado football game, schools pledge to bring students together

PHOTO: Marc Piscotty
Manual High students.

Acknowledging “we may never have a conclusive picture of what happened,” two Colorado school districts sought to move past a controversy over whether a Confederate flag was displayed at a football game and open a conversation between the two school communities.

The principal of Manual High, Nick Dawkins, wrote in a community letter over the weekend that the visiting Weld Central High School team “displayed a Confederate flag during the first quarter of the (Friday night) game, offending many members of the Manual community.”

Officials from Denver Public Schools and Weld County School District Re-3J released a joint letter Tuesday saying that based “on what we have learned to date, however, the Weld Central team did not display the Confederate flag.” At the same time, it said, multiple Manual eyewitnesses “reported seeing spectators who attempted to bring a Confederate flag into the game and clothing with flag images.”

Going forward, students from the two schools — one rural and one urban — will participate in a student leadership exchange that has student leaders visit each other’s schools and communities to “share ideas and perspectives,” the letter says.

“At a time in our country when so many are divided, we want our students instead to come together, share ideas and learn together,” says the letter, which is signed by the principals of both schools and the superintendents of both school districts.

The alleged incident took place at a time when issues of race, social injustice, politics and sports are colliding in the United States, making for tough conversations, including in classrooms.

Weld Central’s mascot is a Rebel. Manual, whose mascot is the Thunderbolts, is located in one of Denver’s historically African-American neighborhoods.

Dawkins in his initial community letter also said “the tension created by the flag led to conflict on and off the playing field,” and that three Manual players were injured, including one who went to the hospital with a leg injury. He also said some Manual players reported that Weld Central players “taunted them with racial slurs.”

Weld Central officials vehemently denied that their team displayed the flag. In addition, they said in their own community letter they had “no evidence at this point that any of our student athletes displayed racially motivated inappropriate behavior.”

They said district officials “do not condone any form of racism,” including the Confederate flag.

Weld Central fans told the Greeley Tribune that they didn’t see any Confederate flag.

Read the full text below.