Arts Education Debate Continues
March 21st, 2008
Two and a half years ago, Sharon Dunn, the newly installed head of arts education at the Department of Education, sat in front of the City Council unable to offer an idea of how many schools offer arts programs.
Earlier this month, the Bloomberg Administration caught up to speed and issued its first report card on the arts in schools. But the findings were not positive: Only four percent of elementary schools meet the state’s arts education requirements.
Arts advocates were quick to criticize the administration, according to the New York Times, and some even said that the $150,000 spent on the report could have been used for arts programs.
But at least one group now says that although the numbers are deplorable, “the Department of Education deserves credit for acknowledging this in its new report and has pledged to improve that performance.”
The comment was made by Randall Bourscheidt, president the of the Alliance for the Arts, a research and advocacy group, in a letter to the editor in the Times. She went on to say, “The fact that nearly all schools now have some teaching in the arts is real progress after the disastrous elimination of arts programs during the fiscal crisis of the 1970s — a tragedy we need to avoid during this economic downturn.”
Meanwhile, some worry that even the small high schools that focus on the arts are not sustainable in the long run because they are funded by private money. “If Bill Gates wasn’t around, would these small arts schools exist?” Richard Kessler, executive director of the Center for Arts Education, asked Backstage magazine. “It’s a fundamental question of, Does [the government] actually want arts education or are they just following the money?”By Mike Muller on March 21, 2008, 12:05 pm
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