A new report from the New York City comptroller finds that many public schools offer no arts programs, and that low-income and minority students are hurt the most by it. The report is written based on data from the U.S. Department of Education that finds 20 percent of New York's public schools have NO arts teachers. This includes one in seven middle and high schools, despite that fact that arts instruction at that level is a state requirement.
The biggest areas hit by the lack of arts teachers? Central Brooklyn and the South Bronx. In those schools, more than 42 percent have no state-certified arts instructors. Between 2006 and 2013, spending on arts equipment and other supplies dropped a whopping 84 percent, perhaps due to pressure to meet higher accountability standards in basic subjects.
Speaking to the New York Times, comptroller Scott M. Stringer said that arts education is often viewed as expendable, but it should be given much higher priority. His full report, which will be released next week, is expected to cause backlash against former New York City mayor Michael R. Bloomberg who pushed for higher accountability standards in schools during his tenure. When a similar report came out in 2011 that showed a decrease in physical education offerings, districts and educators were quick to point fingers at Bloomberg's tunnel vision when it comes to test scores. New mayor Bill de Blasio has already come out against Bloomberg's stance on teaching to the test and has also made some changes in charter schools that Bloomberg established.
At any rate, the lack of arts education in NYC schools is indicative of a larger cultural issue that undercuts arts education for the sake of higher test scores.