- New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer plans to release a report Monday detailing quantifiable stats on the deceasing number of New York public schools offering arts education, with low-income neighborhoods most affected by the cuts.
- According to the report, 20% of NYC public schools lack any arts teachers and, more specifically, 42% of schools without certified arts teachers are clustered in South Bronx and Central Brooklyn.
- Stringer says supplying a full-time, certified arts teacher to every school that doesn’t have one would cost about $26 million.
On a local level, Stringer hopes the report’s release will push the city to dedicate more money toward art teachers and programs and promote transparency in how the city’s art resources are allocated across neighborhoods. This may be a possibility since the city has a new mayor and school chancellor running things.
On a national level, however, the report highlights a massive issue. As school budget equality conversations are making rounds across the nation, this report can be an example of what can happen when economic disparities are not considered in school budgeting.
Low-income neighborhoods don’t lack arts programs because they care about the arts less than other wealthier districts—they lack arts programs because, when budgets are tight, those programs are unfortunately the first to go.
Another issue that often pushes arts programs out of schools is an emphasis on high-stakes testing. The pressure to succeed on standardized tests has administrators anchoring schools in test-prep, which often means the elimination of extracurriculars like arts and physical education. This is disproportionately seen in low-income areas where schools tend to have more of a high-stakes testing atmosphere.
As Stringer said in an interview with the New York Times, “We treat arts classroom space the way we treat janitorial space — it’s just expendable. And it shouldn’t be.”