The New York City Department of Education’s Office of Arts and Special Projects (OSAP), has the mission to provide all public school students with universal access to a high quality arts education. Through this mission, it their hope to lead students to discover the lifelong enjoyment and wonder through the arts and connect them with world-class arts and cultural institutions in New York City, the cultural capital in the world.
Earlier this week, the Department of Education (DOE) here in New York City released its Annual Arts in Schools Report for the 2014-2015 school year. This reflects data on the first year of the city’s unprecedented $23 million annual arts education funding initiative that began in July 2014, to address specific needs in the arts for schools.
The document focuses on the following areas that contribute to quality and equity in arts education:
- Student participation in arts learning
- Sequential instruction in the arts
- The number of teachers assigned and certified to teach in the arts
- Tracking arts and cultural partnerships and services for schools
- Notating space allocation for arts education
This is due in part by a wonderful partnership between DOE Chancellor Carmen Farina and Mayor Bill de Blasio and their belief that the arts are integral to a quality education.
The funds from this new initiative has gone on to support and expand a number of programs as well as provide schools with the tools and resources to reach the goal of arts for every child in NYC. Some of these programs include:
Facilities and Improvement and Resources (Arts Spaces)
In an effort to provide direct support to schools, a new grant is available to fund and provide substantial arts space renovations and equipment. This in turn will help schools to provide space that will support and allow for rigorous arts instruction.
Arts Studio and Classroom Libraries
This provides spaces to support arts teachers and provide areas where students have access to quality arts texts and resources for student learning that makes connections between the art disciplines and other academic subjects. Resources are arranged by artistic discipline and include a variety of materials such as books, CDs, and DVDs.
This is geared to engage 7th and 8th grade students in the arts and foster relationships between schools, museums, and performing arts venues. Through a series of project-based learning workshops, middle school students are able to enjoy the rich learning opportunities available through local arts and cultural institutions.
Arts and Cultural Services Fairs
This is a time where teachers, school administrators, and cultural organizations come together to promote arts partnerships that can occur in and out of the classroom. This also creates a space where schools can become aware of the many services that are available to expand and enrich student arts learning.
Blueprints @ 10
This year four of the Blueprints for Teaching and Learning in the Arts (dance, music, theater, visual arts) originally created in 2004-2005, have revised standards-based frameworks for students in pre-k through 12th grade. Revisions also include support for English Language Learners (ELL) and students with disabilities.
Arts + Family Engagement
In an effort to expand arts participation and foster arts engagement among families and the greater community, this program showcases students’ arts experiences, engages students, parents, and family members while demonstrating the power and importance of the arts in a school setting.
Over the past school year, there has been a general increase the arts in education which is very exciting and I hope this trend continues. I did want to take a few moments to talk about the status of dance education in NYC and highlight a few big wins from this report:
Arnhold Teacher Support Programs
Through Jody Arnhold and the Arnhold grant, new first and second year dance teachers receive teacher mentoring and resources to help them as they start their careers teaching in schools. Fees to support coursework at the 92Y Dance Education Laboratory (DEL) goes to help teachers get their dance license for their teaching certification.
Also, all dance educators received a copy of the documentary PS Dance, a film that outlines the value and advocates for quality dance education for every child. If you haven’t seen it, I highly encourage you to watch PS Dance here.
Here is a preview of the film:
Annual Arts Education Survey
In an effort to raise transparency and accountability for arts in education the NYC DOE schools, the OSAP administered the Annual Arts Education Survey to collect information on arts programming in schools. Here are some key figures to note:
- 87% of all participating preschools provide dance instruction to their students
- 78% of all participating elementary schools provide students with dance instruction
- 31% of all participating middle schools provides students with dance instruction
- 19% of all participating high schools provides students with dance instruction
- 62% of all participating D75 (support for students with disabilities) schools with dance instruction
After reading through this report, I feel confident in saying there has been a general rise in arts education in all disciplines and in each borough compared to last year. However, the numbers for dance in school tends to lag behind music and the visual arts.
A lot has been done, but there is still much work to be done to ensure all students have access to quality dance education. Dance tends to be high in elementary schools, but slowly disappears in both middle and high school. Many schools still say that despite their willingness to have dance and other art disciplines, their biggest challenge is finding the funds and the to do so.
Being an advocate for dance education as well as working for a cultural institution in NYC, I have felt the effects of these programs first hand. Schools have more more money to expand and/or create new arts programs for their students. I have had a number of conversations with school administrators (principals, assistant principals, parent coordinators, and PTAs) who are looking to partner with arts organizations to provide experiences that empower their students and enhance learning in and out of the classroom. Teachers have more time to dedicate to the arts through field trips and the bringing in of master teaching artists for workshops, residencies, and performances. Parents are looking for more opportunities for their kids to be involved in the arts. More funders are looking to support valuable arts instruction, and more partnerships are being made among arts and cultural partners. Needless to say, I have been the busy bee at my job! But I am happy that both our DOE Chancellor and City Mayor are both committed to having the arts in education.
If you are in NYC, how has the city’s investment in arts education have an affect on you?
If you are not in NYC, what programs/initiatives are being done in a city near you?
For more information about the NYC Annual Arts Report, please check it out here!