A Tale of Two City's Arts Education Reports

Did you know that many of the schools in New York City’s public system are in violation of New York State Law when it comes to the minimal requirements that they must meet with respect to arts education?

toni painting

So claims an April 2014 report, State of the Arts, out of the office of the New York City Comptroller, Scott M. Stringer.  The report’s summary also claimed that deep disparities exist between schools in the system.

Here are the statistics taken directly from the Summary of State of the Arts :

  • 419 schools in New York City (28 percent) lack even one full-time, certified arts teacher - including 20 percent (76) of all high schools, 22 percent (59) of all middle schools and 38 percent (232) of all elementary schools.


  • 306 schools (20 percent) have neither a full nor a part-time certified arts teacher -  including 14 percent or (53) of all high school, 13 percent (34) middle schools and 30 percent or (182) of all elementary schools.


According to a New York State Department of Education report on the Arts Standards, last updated in April 2009the following excerpts the City's Standards for Visual Arts:

Standard 1: Creating, Performing and Participating in the Arts

1. Students will make works of art that explore different kinds of subject matter, topics, themes, and metaphors. Students will understand and use sensory elements, organizational principles, and expressive images to communicate their own ideas in works of art. Students will use a variety of art materials, processes, mediums, and techniques, and use appropriate technologies for creating and exhibiting visual art works.

Standard 2: Knowing and Using Arts Materials and Resources

2.  Students will know and use a variety of visual arts materials, techniques, and processes. Students will know about resources and opportunities for participation in visual arts in the community (exhibitions, libraries, museums, galleries) and use appropriate materials (art reproductions, slides, print materials, electronic media). Students will be aware of vocational options available in the visual arts.

Standard 3: Responding to and Analyzing Works of Art

3.  Students will reflect on, interpret, and evaluate works of art, using the language of art criticism. Students will analyze the visual characteristics of the natural and built environment and explain the social, cultural, psychological, and environmental dimensions of the visual arts. Students will compare the ways in which a variety of ideas, themes, and concepts are expressed through the visual arts with the ways they are expressed in other disciplines.

Standard 4: Understanding the Cultural Dimensions and Contributions of the Arts 

4.  Students will explore art and artifacts from various historical periods and world cultures to discover the roles that art plays in the lives of people of a given time and place and to understand how the time and place influence the visual characteristics of the art work. Students will explore art to understand the social, cultural, and environmental dimensions of human society.

Scott M. Stringer’s 2014 Report made recommendations to: 

  1. Broaden the DOE accountability framework, including School Progress Reports, to include arts education;

  2. Build schools’ capacity to provide a robust arts education by expanding outreach to potential cultural partners;

  3. Ensure adequate funding to support quality arts education at all city schools.

  “In the end, providing every child in New York City with a robust arts education should be more than an aspiration. It should be viewed as an essential component of a 21st century curriculum – one that all our students should have the opportunity to enjoy.” S. STRINGER



In October 2014 new Chancellor Carmen Farina stated in her second major speech addressing promises for New York City school system. 

"We are expanding arts education because when the arts are part of the DNA of a school, students achieve artistically and academically. We have an additional $23 million to ensure that all students have a high-quality arts education, including in our pre-k program."   C. FARINA

I recently contacted the Press Office at the NYC Comptroller’s Office to see if any progress has been made in the near year since their last report, but received no response.  Hopefully I’ll have some good news to share in a future blog post. 



Contributing from Montreal, Quebec CN



1.  Standards for the Arts. University of  The State of New York.

2.  State of the Arts: Office of the NYC Comptroller, Scott M. Stringer. April, 2014.

3. New York Times story from April 2014  

4. Chancellor Carmen Fariña's speech from October 2014