Chancellor Fariña Highlights Commitment to Arts Education: Announces Highest Number of Arts Teachers in a Decade, and 22,000 Students Receiving New Arts Instruction at 113 Middle and High Schools

  • Posted: Wed Dec 16, 2015 Updated: Fri Apr 20, 2018

New Arts Matter initiative has supported hiring at 113 middle and high schools, including 74 that had no arts teacher prior to the 2014-15 school year. 175 additional arts teachers across City in 2014-15, highest number ever recorded in Annual Arts in Schools Report. Arts Matter initiative one of several highlighted in new 2014-15 Annual Arts in Schools Report

NEW YORK – Chancellor Fariña today released the 2014-15 Annual Arts in Schools Report, highlighting Middle and High School Arts Matter – a new staffing initiative that is part of the administration’s additional $23 million annual investment in arts education and has brought new full-time arts teachers to 113 middle and high schools across the City during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years. 

74 of the Arts Matter schools had no arts teacher prior to the 2014-15 school year, and none of the Arts Matter schools had more than one arts teacher. This school year, 22,000 middle and high school students are in classes taught by the new Arts Matter teachers. 

In addition to the new Arts Matter teachers, the Annual Arts in Schools Report highlights a number of new and expanded arts initiatives that are reaching students across all five boroughs – including new classes and student and family activities, expanded community arts partnerships, additional supports for educators, and additional funding for arts facilities in schools. 

The Middle and High School Arts Matter initiative partners nearby schools – mostly located in high-needs communities – to share one or two full-time arts teachers with partial funding from the DOE, along with substantial training as well as material and resource supports for the schools and new teachers. 

Including Arts Matter teachers, the number of licensed arts teachers in all pre-K-12 schools increased to 2,568 in 2014-15 – the highest total in the nine years of the Annual Arts in Schools Report. Preliminary data for 2015-16 shows further increase in the total number of arts teachers. 

“Rigorous arts instruction is an integral part of a well-rounded education, and it makes a real difference that we have the most arts teachers in our schools in a decade,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “In particular, through the Arts Matter initiative, 22,000 students in 113 more schools are in arts classes that did not exist before. It is especially critical that we are getting the arts into more middle schools – this is a time when students are developing their academic and creative passions, and they should have exposure to the joy of arts. I am delighted by this program and others to increase equity and access around arts education, and I look forward to the work ahead.” 

A total of 86 new arts teachers were hired through Arts Matter in either the beginning of the 2014-15 or 2015-16 school year to serve 113 schools. By borough, there are new teachers at 38 Bronx schools, 45 Brooklyn schools, 19 Manhattan schools, and 11 Queens schools. Below is the breakdown of the new teachers by school type and arts discipline: 

    School Type: 
    Middle School – 76 teachers, across 94 middle schools 
    High School – 10 teachers, across 19 high schools 

    Arts Discipline: 
    Dance – 16 teachers 
    Music – 31 teachers 
    Theater – 14 teachers 
    Visual Arts – 25 teachers 

Schools selected for the Arts Matter initiative receive three years of financial and instructional support from the DOE. During the first two years, each paired school contributes 25 percent of the new teacher’s salary, with the DOE contributing the remaining half. A small number of Arts Matter schools are not paired. 

For three years, the DOE also provides schools with funds to be used for extensive, discipline-specific studio supplies and texts – such as musical instrument instruction books, and visual arts drying racks – as well as ongoing professional development, including one-on-one discipline-specific mentoring by experienced teachers. In addition, participating schools receive funds for community arts partnerships that support the work of their new arts teachers. The initiative is designed to be sustainable beyond the initial two-year financial support period, with each paired school already provided materials and increasing its contribution to the arts teacher’s salary to 50 percent. 

The Chancellor announced Middle and High School Arts Matter as part of the Annual Arts in School Report at PS/IS 45 in Brooklyn, an Arts Matter middle school which is sharing both a new visual arts and music teacher with PS/IS 377. 

“Arts education is my first passion, and I now have the opportunity to use that passion to help students at PS/IS 45 and PS/IS 377,” said Jillian Martinelli-Meloni, an Arts Matter visual arts teacher. “Middle-school students at these schools are getting rigorous arts instruction for the first time in years, and the whole community is excited – parents who come into the building for arts open houses, non-arts teachers who work with me to engage their classrooms and integrate subject learning, and of course the students themselves.” 

“Arts Matter has offered our students a special opportunity,” said Tracey Lott-Davis, principal of PS/IS 45. “Through our new visual arts class, students can discover their talents and express themselves visually – for many of them, it is an awakening. They are learning the history of art and how to produce it themselves, and we’re already displaying their amazing work across our school building.” 

The DOE has identified low-arts middle and high schools and encouraged them to apply for Middle and High School Arts Matter; schools that apply in pairs, demonstrate a commitment to rigorous arts education, and commit to retaining a new arts teacher on staff after the initial two-year financial support period are selected. An additional cohort of schools will be selected to participate in the Arts Matter initiative for 2016-17. The total annual cost of the initiative for the 2015-16 school year is $5.3 million, and is funded entirely out of the additional annual investment in arts education allocated in July 2014. 

Thirteen of the new Arts Matter teachers are Lincoln Center Scholars, a new partnership funded by the additional investment among Lincoln Center Education, the DOE, the Hunter College School of Education, and the United Federation of Teachers that allows professional and teaching artists to fast-track their arts licensing and teach in DOE schools while continuing their own education. 

“Our City has shown unprecedented commitment to giving all our students a strong, rigorous arts education and we are pursuing a number of new and expanded initiatives as part of this commitment,” said Paul King, Executive Director of the Office of Arts and Special Projects. “We are excited to show this progress in the 2014-15 Annual Arts in Schools Report, including bringing in so many new teachers and serving 22,000 students with new instruction through the Arts Matter initiative. I look forward to continuing to work with Chancellor Fariña and students and families across the City to bring the joys and benefits of arts education to all our schools.” 

“An education in the arts is a critical component in helping our kids grow up to be successful adults,” said Congressman Hakeem Jeffries. “Tragically, many of our schools have been forced to eliminate or restrict access to these programs due to budget issues. Chancellor Fariña and all involved should be applauded for their commitment to fighting fervently to protect these programs and ensure our kids receive a well-rounded education in schools throughout New York City.” 

“Arts education should be a vital part of every child’s school experience,” said Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, Chair of the Assembly Education Committee. “It has long been a priority of the New York State Assembly and I applaud the steps the Chancellor has taken to increase access to arts teachers and programs.” 

“A comprehensive arts education should be part of every child's school experience,” said City Council Education Committee Chair Daniel Dromm. “As a former NYC public school teacher, I have seen firsthand how dance, music, theater and the visual arts motivate young people to attend class and thrive in school year after year. I applaud Chancellor Fariña for working to improve and expand student access to arts education by increasing the number of arts teachers in public schools across the five boroughs. I will continue to do all that I can to support this important effort.” 

“The arts matter in Brooklyn, and I am pleased to learn that thousands of our students are now benefiting from new arts instruction thanks to increased investment by our City,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. “Children deserve well-rounded schooling that holistically grows their full potential, and the critical creativity that is stoked by arts education has no substitute.” 

"We know the arts engage students. For many children, the arts become a reason to come and stay in school. It is wonderful to have the arts restored in so many of our schools and for students to be getting the rich education they deserve," said Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers. 

“The arts have the ability to changes the lives of our City's children. Working with this Administration we have expanded access to the arts giving countless students the ability to dream big. I applaud the Administration for making the expansion of arts programming in our City schools,” said City Council Majority Leader and Chair of the Cultural Affairs Committee Jimmy Van Bramer

“As a product of New York City schools, I’ve always felt that we needed to do more to improve and expand the arts curriculum offered to our students. I want to thank Chancellor Farina for her leadership and advocacy on this issue and am excited to hear that P.S. 45 in Bushwick has added two new arts teachers to their staff as a result of DOE’s efforts to broaden the reach of their arts initiatives,” said City Council Member Rafael L. Espinal, Jr. 

“Beyond getting students engaged and helping them develop as artists, my theater classes are really about teaching decision-making, leadership, and being able to plan and execute a project,” said Victoria Alexis Wilson, an Arts Matter theater teacher at Pelham Lab School and Westchester Square Academy in the Bronx. “These are important, empowering, and practical skills that students can use in college or careers, and it is wonderful to see their excitement and the finished products they make. That’s why I became an arts teacher, and I look forward to continuing this work with my students.” 

“Our collaboration with Westchester Square Academy and our shared arts teacher give our students a new, rigorous arts learning opportunity and we already see students benefiting,” said Jason Wagner, principal of Pelham Lab School. “We are a science-focused school, and with our new arts teacher, we can bring together scientific thinking and the arts and strengthen students’ learning in both. The arts is critical for giving our students a well-rounded education and engaging them across all disciplines.” 

“As an Arts Matter music teacher, I'm teaching my students songwriting, performance, and music technology skills,” said Spencer Hale, an Arts Matter music teacher at the Highbridge Green School and The Bronx School of Young Leaders. “But most importantly, I'm focusing on providing them with the skills to study and perform music on their own outside of the classroom.” 

“Our kids are really talented, and Arts Matter has given them the opportunity to express themselves across multiple arts disciplines,” said Kyle Brillante, principal of the Highbridge Green School in the Bronx. “We wouldn’t have a dance and music teacher without this program, and they are bringing tremendous benefits to our schools – we see students trying new things, becoming invested in the arts, and proudly performing for their families and peers at showcase events. Having these arts choices and benefits is so critical in middle school, where we’re working every day to keep students engaged and thinking about the future they want to pursue in high school, college, and careers.” 

“We believe that the arts are an essential component for a complete education,” said Russell Granet, Executive Director of Lincoln Center Education. “To further realize this vision, the Lincoln Center Scholars program was developed, in partnership with Hunter College and the Department of Education and with support from the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, to train and certify high-quality arts teachers for New York City schools. Of the 47 Lincoln Center Scholars employed, 13 are actively engaged in the Arts Matter program, providing high-quality arts education where it’s needed most.” 

Other highlights of the 2014-15 Annual Arts in Schools Report, which provides a snapshot of New York City schools’ progress in the arts in the first year of additional arts funding, include significant growth in pre-K arts instruction and middle and high school arts instruction across the boroughs. The percentage of schools serving pre-K students with arts instruction increased across each of the four arts disciplines: 

        o Dance – 87 percent, up from 84 percent 
        o Music – 94 percent, up from 92 percent 
        o Theater – 76 percent, up from 75 percent 
        o Visual Arts – 97 percent, up from 94 percent 

Reflecting its commitment to early childhood education, the DOE launched the Pre-K and the Arts training in 2014-15, a series of two-day professional development trainings for pre-K teachers focusing on specific aspects of arts instruction. The new two-day trainings are led by professional teaching artists with pre-K expertise, and include methods like use of storytelling, puppetry and clowning for engaging early learners in theater. In the 2014-15 school year, 581 pre-K teachers in 245 schools serving approximately 7,550 pre-K students participated. 

The Report also showed significant growth in middle and high school arts instruction, driven by the Middle and High School Arts Matter initiative. The percentage of middle and high schools reporting at least one arts teacher increased across every discipline: 

        Middle School 
        • Dance – 27 percent, up from 19 percent 
        • Music – 60 percent, up from 55 percent 
        • Theater – 20 percent, up from 17 percent 
        • Visual Arts – 76 percent, up from 69 percent 

        High School 
        • Dance – 21 percent, up from 16 percent 
        • Music – 46 percent, up from 41 percent 
        • Theater – 26 percent, up from 22 percent 
        • Visual Arts – 74 percent, up from 72 percent 

The percentage of middle and high schools offering instruction in arts disciplines also increased: 

        Middle School 
        • At least one arts discipline – 96 percent, up from 92 percent 
        • At least two arts disciplines – 71 percent, up from 62 percent 
        • At least three arts disciplines – 30 percent, up from 24 percent 

        High School 
        • At least one arts discipline – 98 percent, consistent from the previous year 
        • At least two arts disciplines – 71 percent, up from 69 percent 
        • At least three arts disciplines – 36 percent, up from 27 percent 

The Report also highlighted new arts initiatives focusing on each of the five boroughs, including Borough Arts Fairs and Borough Arts Directors. The Borough Arts Fairs are a series of year-end borough-wide events including student arts exhibitions and public performance, and bring students, families, and educators together in celebration of arts education. In 2014-15, five Borough Arts Directors were also appointed to lead school support and professional development for all schools in their borough. These leaders work with superintendents and Borough Field Support Centers to build the supports and environments that promote high-quality arts instruction. 

Additional information on focus initiatives and arts instruction can be found in the full 2014-15 Annual Arts in Schools Report available online. 
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