Opinion: NYC schools could be leaders in arts education
After years of budget cuts and a pronounced narrowing of the curriculum at public schools in New York City and across the nation, leading candidates vying to be the city's next mayor are promoting a vision of our schools that includes a healthy dose of arts and music and expanded access to a rich and engaging curriculum.
Our organizations, as part of a coalition of more than 40 arts, education and child welfare groups, asked each of the declared 2013 mayoral candidates to share their ideas for arts in education in public schools. The ideas they proposed are substantial:
Reducing the emphasis on testing and test prep to make room for the arts.
Putting in place dedicated arts funding at each and every city school.
Including the arts in the school progress reports.
In the current educational climate, putting these ideas into action will be challenging. But in big cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, San Diego and Portland, civic leaders have joined with parents, students, cultural institutions and businesses to advance ambitious plans to expand access to arts and creative learning. Chicago, for instance, is allocating municipal resources to ensure there is at least one certified arts teacher in every school, and a core component of its plan to expand the school day includes additional coursework in the arts.
Now, it is New York City's turn. With education sure to be a top priority for the next mayor -- and with an increasing understanding by parents and employers of the importance of providing a rich and engaging curriculum to our children -- the stage is set for New York to be a leader in this realm.
We look forward to hearing more from the candidates about how they would turn their goals into practical outcomes as mayor. More specifics, and more dialogue, will raise awareness and help lay the groundwork for policies that will engage our kids and enrich our schools.
With NYC's rich cultural resources, artists and creative industries, and the developing laser-like focus on college and career readiness, there's no reason that we should be not only the world's cultural capital, but its arts and creative education capital as well.
Eric Pryor is executive director of The Center for Arts Education, a service provider and advocacy organization, and Kim Sweet is executive director of Advocates for Children of New York, an education advocacy organization. Candidate responses go to the Arts in Education Candidate Survey can be accessed at: www.nycartsed.com/mayor.