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NYC school arts spending up $14 million over last year: report

2020-01-16

City schools spent $14 million more on arts classes last year than the year before, bringing the total to almost $450 million, according to a new report from the Education Department.

Close to 2,900 arts teachers worked in city public schools during the 2018-19 school year, up from about 2,400 in 2013, officials said.

"New York City has a rich history of developing and inspiring the next generation of world-class artists – from dancers and actors, to musicians and visual artists,” said Mayor de Blasio. “A strong arts program is crucial to a robust, well-rounded education, which is why we continue to increase our investment in the arts for every child in every neighborhood.”

The report broke down arts education into four categories: dance, music, theater, and visual arts. Officials said 99% of elementary schoolers got a class in at least one of those disciplines, and 63% got a class in all four. By middle school, the percentage of students who get all four categories dipped to 12%, and by high school it was just 10%.

But officials pointed to big investments under Mayor de Blasio. Total spending increased by $111 million since 2013, when de Blasio took office.

Some of that money goes towards arts-related professional development, including training for school administrators and an initiative to bring arts to English Language Learners.

The city’s still a long way from meeting state education department requirements for arts in middle school, however. State requirements dictate that eighth graders complete two arts classes in two different disciplines led by certified teachers. Only 34% of city eighth graders met that standard last year, up modestly from 28% in 2014.

At least one enterprising youngster took matters into her own hands recently. The Daily News reported that Queens second-grader Elizabeth Wholmaker started a petition after her elementary school eliminated a dedicated arts period.

“My kids, they’re not sports kids,” Wholmaker’s mom told The News. “They’re very artistic. That was like their one thing each week they looked forward to.”