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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Arts Education in New York City Not Up To State Standards


The New York City Tweeducation enterprise has just issued the second annual Arts in Schools Report, and those in the know about what is happening are speaking out...like Richard Kessler, Executive Director of the Center for Arts Education. I know that the City's music teachers are being thrown into "rubber rooms" quickly, with the usual false charges. The first programs that are cut are the arts, especially by principals who want to get a nice bonus in June 2009 for raising test scores. This is not rocket science. I learned the hard way that whenever there is money to be had, Principals/NYC BOE officials will take it.

Several years ago I worked with former Deputy Chancellor of the NYC BOE, Carmen Farina who was at the time the Principal of my youngest daughter's elementary school (PS 6 on East 81st Street in Manhattan). See my article Carmen Farina: Politics Wins With Her Appointment as Deputy Chancellor in New York City. Can you believe I wrote Special Investigator of Investigation Ed Stancik a letter and asked him to investigate Carmen Farina?

Carmen asked me to work with her on the designing of a program that would sustain funding for the arts at PS 6 and our sister school, PS 198 (East 96th Street) after the Annenberg Challenge For the Arts grant ($75,000/year for 3 years) ran out in 2001. I designed The Arts Together Community Partnership, and we produced a brochure to start the program. The basic idea was to have services and companies buy a page in a PS 6 community directory that would be viewed by parents and visitors to the school, and this money would be used to funds arts programs. Parents, teachers, any one, could also become a member by donating $25.00 or more. Gloria Buckery, Principal of PS198, was the ATCP's first individual member.

Carmen Fariña, a deputy chancellor, center, and behind her at left, her successor, Andrés Alonso, and the schools chancellor, Joel I. Klein from the NY TIMES article "Top School Aide Becomes the Latest to Step Down" By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN (Published: April 27, 2006).

Many of us "old-times" (parents with children in the NYC BOE public school system for many years) remember that Carmen was "retired" (a nice way of saying removed/fired) by the NYC BOE because of her complicity with Brooklyn Tech Principal Lee McGaskill in getting his daughter into a public school in Brooklyn despite his legal residency in New Jersey. (See my article "Former Deputy Chancellor Carmen Farina Retired Because of Her Complicity With the McCaskill Wrongdoing" June, 2006)
In May 2000 Carmen asked me to attend the Annenberg conference in NYC, so I took the brochure. I spoke about the Arts Together Community Partnership in the afternoon, and then saw PS 6 AP Maria Stiles leave. After the session, three teachers from PS 198 told me that they had never heard of the arts program. I was surprised.

When I got home, there was a call from Carmen, to call her immediately. I did, and heard the most dirty cursing I have ever heard from anyone. She told me that I had no right to discuss the Arts Together Community Partnership Program, that I was a b***h, and to not attend the Conference's second day, because she was going and she would tell everyone how wrong and misinformed I really was. I resigned from my position on the Executive Board, as a teacher of Great Books, as mentor of the 5th grade Yearbook club, and Arts Together Community Partnership creator. All the ATCP materials were thrown away into the garbage a few days later, acording to a source who worked in the office. I have copies, of course, but the project was over, at PS 6 and PS 198. I continued to ask Carmen where the $225,000 was, and filed a freedom of information request for the documentation of the grant money. The New York City BOE's answer was that the grant money stayed at The Center For Arts Education, or there is no record of any allocation after the grant was received by CAE.

In the final assessment of the Annenberg Challenge For the Arts Grants, the Annenberg folk lamented the failure of the program - partially due to the lack of accountability of principals in accounting for where the money was allocated.

Betsy Combier

Richard Kessler, Executive Director, the Center for Arts Education, Issues Statement on the Release of the New York City Department of Education Annual Arts in Schools Report 2007 - 2008
"Report makes clear that the school system is still failing to provide students with the arts education they are entitled to by law"

Last update: 9:57 p.m. EDT Oct. 15, 2008
NEW YORK, Oct 15, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- The Center for Arts Education (CAE) commends the New York City Department of Education (DOE) for issuing the second annual Arts in Schools Report, which provides the public with helpful information about arts education offerings in public schools. However, the release of today's report makes clear that the school system is still failing to provide students with the arts education they are entitled to by law. With budgets being slashed this year and presumably next year, and an increased focus on testing and test preparation, there is a fear that arts education will disappear from the schools.
There is no doubt that the NYC DOE's Office of Arts and Special Projects is doing the very best job possible under policies they do not control. While CAE recognizes that strides have been made in some schools to bolster arts education offerings, it's disheartening to learn that in New York City, the cultural capital of the world -- renowned for its Broadway theaters, world class museums and thriving music and art scene -- city public schools are failing to provide students the education they deserve.
-- According to the current report, only 8 percent of elementary schools reported offering the minimum that is required by the State of New York, up from 4 percent the previous year.
-- While last year's report found that only 29 percent of middle school students completed the state requirements in the arts, this key barometer is noticeably absent from this year's report.
-- Schools are budgeting less on the arts overall, with spending on services by art and cultural partners down by over half a million dollars, and a 63 percent decrease in spending on arts supplies and equipment.
-- Spending on the arts relative to other budget areas has also decreased. It is critical to note that the data predates the current economic crisis.
With the eradication of Project ARTS in 2006, the NYC DOE did away with a critical "safety net for arts education," that required principals to commit to spending a minimal amount of a school's budget on the arts. As a first and simple step to begin making real progress towards restoring quality arts education for every child, we urge the city to once again renew its commitment to the city's school children by ensuring that every school receives a dedicated funding stream for arts education.

SOURCE: The Center for Arts Education (CAE)
The Center for Arts Education
Susan Johnson, 212-971-3300 x308
sjohnson@caenyc.org

SCHOOLS IN ART FAILURE
By YOAV GONEN, Education Reporter, NY POST
October 16, 2008 --

Just 8 percent of city elementary schools met state requirements for arts instruction in the 2007-08 school year, according to a new report.

And that figure was double what it had been the prior year, when only 4 percent of schools offered dance, music, theater and visual-arts classes to students, as required.

The gains were more substantial for the city's middle schools, however, with 46 percent of schools meeting state instruction mandates last year - up from 29 percent in 2006-07.

Arts participation also increased in high schools, ranging from gains of 5 percentage points for students taking arts classes in 11th grade to gains of 10 percentage points for students in ninth and 12th grades.

City and education officials hailed the overall increase in participation documented in the second annual Arts in Schools report - an initiative that was designed to both account for and boost student engagement in the arts.

"This year, we saw more schools offer more art to more children, and we're going to keep building on that progress," Mayor Bloomberg said.

But advocates for arts instruction in schools said they were disappointed by the city's poor standing on state standards, and they voiced particular concern about how arts spending would be affected by the city's economic downturn.

Even with the modest gains in arts instruction from 2006-07 to last year, average arts spending over the same period decreased from 3.1 percent of a school's budget to 2.9 percent.

"With budgets being slashed this year and presumably next year, and an increased focus on testing and test preparation, there is a fear that arts education will disappear from the schools," said Richard Kessler, executive director of the Center for Arts Education.

Arts organizations are still smarting from the city's decision in 2006 to dismantle a longstanding funding program known as Projects Arts, which guaranteed that certain sums would be devoted to art instruction.

yoav.gonen@nypost.com

Department of Education Releases Second Annual Arts in Schools Report
10/15/2008

Citywide School Analysis Shows an Increase in Student Participation in All Arts Disciplines

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, New York City Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein, and Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin (pictured at right) today released the second Annual Arts in Schools Report, a comprehensive analysis of arts education in New York City public schools that provides citywide data on student participation in and access to arts programs during the 2007-2008 school year. The report shows an overall increase in the number of schools offering the four art disciplines (visual arts, music, theater, and dance) and a related increase in the number of students receiving arts instruction. For example, last year 45 percent of elementary schools offered the four art disciplines, an increase of seven percentage points from the previous year. The number of middle schools offering the four art disciplines went up from 17 percent to 33 percent, and student participation increased in all four disciplines. These results reflect the ongoing efforts of partners in the cultural community to expand opportunities for students. Last year, 89 percent of schools reported having one or more partners, up from 82 percent in 2006-2007, and the percentage of schools with students involved in arts activities outside of the school building increased at all grade levels. The Annual Arts in Schools Report was developed by the Art Education Task Force, which is composed of members of the City’s cultural community and school leaders and provides guidance and builds support for arts instruction.

This year’s report provides the first year-to-year comparison of arts education in the City’s public schools and demonstrates the effectiveness of ArtsCount, a series of strategies launched in the summer of 2007 to provide greater accountability for arts education. The report documents that despite difficult economic times, arts education remains a priority to school leaders. The results of the report were verified and supplemented by systemwide school budgetary data. The results will be used by administrators and school leaders to enhance arts instruction.

“This year we saw more schools offer more art to more children, and we’re going to keep building on that progress,” Mayor Bloomberg said. “For the first time, we are focusing a spotlight on our schools for arts programming, not just math or English Language Arts, and the report shows that accountability is producing results.”

“This report gives us the first year-to-year comparison of arts programs and participation rates in our schools, and the results are promising,” Chancellor Klein (pictured at right with Kate D. Levin) said. “ArtsCount holds schools accountable for providing the arts and educators are responding. Despite budget and space limitations more schools are recognizing the importance of the arts in providing our students a well-rounded education. We still have a long way to go, but I’m pleased with the progress we’ve made in just one year.”

“More students than ever before are benefiting from the extraordinary range of cultural resources in our classrooms and cultural organizations,” Commissioner Levin said. “The commitment of the City’s nonprofit community is helping school officials, teachers, and parents progress towards our goal of a robust arts education for every New York City public school child.”

“Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein have made bold efforts to ensure that every child who attends a New York City public school will receive a high-quality arts education,” said Jason Duchin, Co-Executive Director of the DreamYard Project and a member of the Arts Education Task Force. “For the past several years, the Department of Education has brought together educators and members of the New York City cultural community to create a standards-based sequential arts program that aims to provide our city’s students with the best arts education of any public school system in America. There is much still to be done, yet even in difficult times, we are confident that the City and the community of cultural partners will continue to support the remarkable progress we are making towards providing arts education to every student.”

“New York City is the arts capital of the world,” said Clive Gillinson, Executive and Artistic Director of Carnegie Hall and an Arts Education Task Force member. “And just as we at Carnegie Hall believe that great music should be available to as many people as possible, we also share with the Department of Education a belief that music should be an essential element in the education of the whole child. Working with the Department of Education and our peer cultural organizations on the Arts Education Task Force has provided us all with great tools to measure arts education in the schools as well as created an invaluable forum for addressing the ways we can work effectively together to ensure that all students in New York City have rich and comprehensive classroom-based arts experiences.”

Among the main findings:

* Forty-five percent of elementary schools offered all four art disciplines in 2007-2008, up from 38 percent in 2006-2007.

o 92 percent of elementary schools offered visual arts
o 89 percent of elementary schools offered music
o 73 percent of elementary schools offered dance
o 56 percent of elementary schools offered theater

* Thirty-three percent of middle schools offered all four art disciplines, up from 17 percent in 2006-2007; and student participation increased in all four disciplines.

o 91 percent participated in visual arts programs, up from 84 percent
o 75 percent participated in music programs, up from 69 percent
o 57 percent participated in dance programs, up from 36 percent
o 56 percent participated in theater programs, up from 49 percent

* A greater percentage of high school students are participating in arts instruction by discipline.

o In the 9th grade, student participation in dance, theater, and visual arts increased by more than ten percentage points in each discipline.
o In the 10th grade, student participation in dance, music, theater, and visual arts increased by more than six percentage points in each discipline.
o In the 11th grade, student participation in dance, music, and theater increased by more than five percentage points in each discipline.
o In the 12th grade, student participation in dance and theater increased by at least ten percentage points.

The report also shows that despite budget constraints, school leaders reported hiring an additional 152 certified arts teachers. Spending levels remained essentially unchanged.

Last year, the Department of Education used several approaches to enhance access and participation rates. These included:

* Establishing the Arts Education Liaison position in more than 1,200 schools. The Arts Education Liaison assists the principal in planning arts instruction, choosing cultural partners, and completing the Annual Arts Survey;
* Building awareness of the requirements for arts education, resulting in a higher survey response rate. The 2007-2008 response rate was 91 percent, representing 1,307 schools, compared to 75 percent, representing 939 schools, in 2006-2007;
* Offering technical assistance and support to every school. More than 800 schools accepted and received help in implementing arts programming;
* Identifying schools in need of improvement in arts education programs and providing specific support services such as visits to best practice sites, seminars on budgeting and scheduling, and an introduction to the Blueprints for Teaching and Learning in the Arts—a research-based approach to teaching arts implemented under Children First.

The 2007-2008 Annual Arts in Schools Report is available online. Individual arts in schools report are posted on school web pages.

2006-2007 Annual Arts in School Report
First Annual Arts in Schools Report Released
03/06/2008
First-Time Report Describes New Supports to Boost Arts Education

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein today released the first Annual Arts in Schools Report, which provides the most comprehensive analysis of arts education in New York City public schools ever produced. The new report documents the comeback of arts education since it was nearly eliminated during the 1970s, and identifies areas where schools are excelling, as well as where targeted interventions are needed to improve results. It provides student participation and access to arts programs data during the 2006-07 school year – the year before the ArtsCount initiative began – and will therefore serve as a baseline for measuring performance under ArtsCount, which was announced last summer to enhance and provide greater accountability for arts education. Early indicators suggest that ArtsCount is already yielding results: in 2007-08, schools budgeted to increase arts spending by 3 percent, or $9.5 million, including a 2 percent increase in the number of full-time, certified arts teachers. The Mayor and Chancellor were joined at Fort Hamilton High School in Brooklyn by Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin, Theatre Development Fund Executive Director Victoria Bailey, and Principal Jo Ann Chester.

“Arts instruction is essential to a high-quality education,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “As the first Annual Arts in Schools Report clearly shows, we have come a long way from the days when the arts were essentially eliminated from our schools. This resurgence would not have happened without the creativity and commitment of the arts community, but much work remains. The report gives the DOE, parents, and the arts community an essential tool to track our continuing progress.”

“Many of our schools are providing an outstanding arts education, cultivating students’ creativity and honing their artistic talents, but clearly, many other students are being shortchanged, which is unacceptable,” said Chancellor Klein. “We will use the data in this report to target support to the schools that need it most, and we will enlist the arts community to assist us in ensuring that every student has access to a well-rounded arts education.”

“The schools that best serve their students are the ones that thoughtfully and actively engage with their communities,” said Commissioner Levin. “In New York City, those communities include some 1,400 non-profit cultural organizations poised to extend and enhance the learning that begins in the classroom.”

Baseline data from the first Annual Arts in Schools Report allow the DOE to measure progress and develop targeted strategies to move schools toward the goal of providing high-quality arts education for all students. As announced last summer, principals will now be held accountable for arts education in their progress reports, quality reviews, and annual performance reviews.

Among new strategies announced today that will begin soon:

* For elementary schools, the DOE will develop curriculum and provide professional development for classroom teachers to integrate all four arts forms—visual arts, music, theater, dance—into their regular instructional programs.
* At the middle-school level, schools will be offered professional development workshops to help school leaders strategically use their schedule, space, and budget to provide more arts programs. These are the three issues most often cited as creating barriers to arts education programs.
* At the high school level, the DOE will offer seminars to help more districts and schools establish multi-year arts sequences. In addition, the DOE will be implementing a 12th grade comprehensive exam in all four arts disciplines, which students will take for the first time in the 2008-09 school year.

In addition, the DOE will develop arts curriculum toolkits for all principals and work with School Support Organizations to help their schools deliver an arts curriculum aligned with the Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in the Arts, a set of clear standards for what students should know and be able to do in the four arts forms. And to address shortages in full-time, certified arts teachers, particularly in dance and theater, the DOE will work with education departments at local universities to develop a strong pipeline of future teachers.

Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein also announced that beginning June 2, Bank of America will sponsor a week-long celebration, “P.S. Arts Week”, which will feature student artwork and performances in marquee locations throughout the city, including Carnegie Hall and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

“The arts are an essential part of the instructional program at Fort Hamilton High School,” said Principal Jo Ann Chester. “They lead to a more well-rounded individual. The variety of music, visual arts, and drama programs we offer also give students the opportunity to make a connection with something they are passionate about, which helps to keep them focused and motivated.”

“Partnerships with committed teachers and principals are central to the success of TDF's work here at Fort Hamilton and in all of the schools where we work. Together, we are able to enrich the lives of students while strengthening key skills they will need as they move beyond the doors of their school,” said Victoria Bailey, Executive Director of Theatre Development Fund. “All of us at TDF would like to thank the Mayor and his team, who are working so effectively on behalf of arts and education.”

The Annual Arts in Schools Report identifies both areas where schools are excelling and areas where the targeted interventions described above are needed. In high schools, nearly half of students (46 percent) are exceeding graduation requirements by earning two or more credits in the arts. In elementary schools, 98 percent of schools are providing arts education to every student each year, with 62 percent providing instruction in two arts forms. However, only 4 percent of elementary schools are offering all four art forms to every grade annually, as required by the State. At the middle school level, more than 90 percent of schools offer at least one art form and 79 percent offer at least two; but only 29 percent of students received one semester’s instruction in two distinct arts disciplines, as the State requires.

Other key findings from the report include:

* Members of New York City’s cultural community are instrumental in helping schools offer diverse arts programs. For example, when working with cultural partners, 68 percent of elementary schools offer at least three arts disciplines and 38 percent offer all four.
* Between 2004-05 and 2006-07, the number of arts vendors in partnership with City schools increased by 56 percent.
* Between 2004-05 and 2006-07, the number of school buildings with arts rooms increased 3 percent, and the total number of arts rooms increased 1 percent. Nearly all, 92 percent, of school buildings have arts rooms.
* Between 2004-05 and 2006-07, the number of full-time certified arts teachers increased by 9 percent.

The Annual Arts in Schools Report is accessible online. Additionally, an individual report has been published for every school and can be found on the ‘Statistics’ page of each school’s website.

Contact: Stu Loeser/Dawn Walker (212) 788-2958

David Cantor (DOE) (212) 374-5141

Arts In Education resources

Does anyone remember the article written in 2006 by a parent concerning his belief that Carmen Farina had only disdain for gifted education? I'm posting it here:

Smart kids need not apply
By Michael Goodwin
Opinion, New York Daily News, March 19, 2006
LINK

It's a sorry state of affairs when lawsuits are seen as the solution to all problems. But a legal demand may be the only way gifted children can shatter the obstacles confronting them at the city's Education Department. Think of it as the Campaign for Equal Educational Opportunity.

Prejudice against smart kids seems to be acceptable among some educrats. Imagine if the school system put a limit on the number of slots available for teaching immigrant children English. Would that pass muster?

Of course not, but that is what is happening with gifted and talented programs. Thousands of smart kids are stuck in dumbed-down classes because the city has too few gifted slots.

Imagine a top school official who repeatedly caused doubts about her commitment to special education students. How long would she be kept in charge of those programs?

But smart kids have no civil rights. Feel free to whack away, Carmen Fariña.

Fariña is the deputy chancellor and as such, runs much of the school system. She plays the key role in virtually every decision about what is taught and how.

Doubts about Fariña's commitment to the gifted programs began the day she took office two years ago. Publicly and privately, she has belittled the programs in ways that suggest she subscribes to the militant liberal view that standardized IQ tests, the yardstick for entry into the programs, are racist and elitist. (My daughter attends a gifted program.)

Fariña has used her power to undermine the city's existing programs, right down to smearing parents who fight for them. In a recent rebuff to parents who complained to The New York Times about confusion and threatened to leave the city, Fariña said: "Sometimes social issues make parents leave. They should be honest about their motivations."

Would she ever say that about an immigrant parent seeking bilingual services? Not unless she was looking to end her career.

Fariña has carried out her campaign with the tool of a skilled bureaucrat: verbal obfuscation. She has implemented "an assessment that measures the fullest range of verbal, nonverbal and spatial skills," for admission to the programs. She has been guided by educator Joseph Renzulli, whose bio says he sees giftedness as "malleable" and boasts that he has "broadened the conception of giftedness." Or, as critics put it, Renzulli believes every kid is a bit gifted.

That may be so in theory, but when it comes to gifted programs, the city has an effective cap on seats. There are about 44,000 students in the programs, or 6% of all students in kindergarten through eighth grade. By contrast, more than 12% of students are in special education. Of course, the law requires those programs, while gifted programs are not mandated.

Worse, the city has expanded the definition of eligibility in some schools to include subjective assessments. Nursery school teachers evaluate each student in a process where IQ test scores are combined with the subjective evaluations. These evaluations count for one-third of a composite rating that determines who gets into the gifted programs. No wonder parents are confused and angry.

Fariña, in an interview, insisted she has tried to bring "rigor and clarity" to a disorganized system and blames the federal government for forcing the city to scrap single-test policy. She also cited her own teaching career as evidence she supports gifted education. Finally, she says changing the standards has brought more "equity."

I would like to believe her commitment to excellence is real, but my suspicions linger. That's why I think a lawsuit may be needed to prove the city is not endorsing prejudice under the guise of "equity." And that gifted children, like all children, are getting the education they need.

Originally published on March 19, 2006

Letter from Center For Arts Education:

Dear NYC Public School Parent,
LINK
This month, the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) released the second annual Arts in Schools Report for the 2007-2008 school year. As the report makes clear the status of arts education in public schools is in jeopardy. Schools budgeted less for arts education last year than they did the previous year and the school system is still failing to provide students with the arts education they are entitled to by law.

Arts education is not an "extra." It is a required component of a sound basic education that fosters the critical thinking skills and creativity necessary for success, academically and otherwise, in the 21st century. Exposure to and participation in the arts is a key element in narrowing the opportunity gap, yet the great majority of our city's schools are unable to provide even the most minimal of requirements.

With looming budget cuts, and an increased focus on testing and test preparation, there is a growing concern that arts education is on the verge of marginalization much as it was in the fiscal crisis of the 1970's, when the arts were almost entirely eliminated from the public school system. Unfortunately, data presented in the report, and reports from inside the schools themselves, reinforce this notion. It is clear that by and large the school system is failing to provide students with the arts education requirements provided by state law. According to the report:

Nearly 30% of schools have no certified arts teacher on staff--up from 20% the previous year;
Principals allocated a smaller percentage of their budgets to arts education than the previous year--shrinking to less than 2.9% on average;
Principals spent more than half a million dollars less on services by art and cultural partners--leading to additional cuts in matching private sector dollars;
There was a 63 percent decrease in spending on arts supplies and equipment over the previous year--a reduction of nearly $7 million.

In addition, the report concludes that by and large schools are failing to provide students with the arts education they are entitled to by state law:

Only 8% of elementary schools reported offering all four arts forms annually as required by state law;
Less than half of middle schools are ensuring that all students are gaining access to the arts education required by law.

Considering that more schools are now without an arts teacher on staff, less money is being spent to bring cultural organizations into schools, and principals are drastically reducing spending on arts supplies and equipment, it is not hard to understand why so many schools are failing to meet the education requirements prescribed by state law.

With the elimination of Project ARTS in 2006, the NYC DOE did away with a critical "safety net for arts education," that secured a minimal amount of a school's budget to be spent on the arts. As a first and simple step to begin making real progress towards restoring quality arts education for every child, we are calling on the NYCDOE to renew its commitment to the city's school children by requiring that a minimum amount of each school's budget be spent on arts education.
To discuss this issue and ways to get involved, do not hesitate to contact Kira Raffel, Director of Public Engagement at (212) 971-3300 ext. 324. Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,
Richard Kessler Kira Raffel

Executive Director Director of Public Engagement

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