Americans for the Arts ArtsBlog: A Pivotal Moment for Arts Education

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Here in New York City, and around the nation, this is a pivotal moment for arts education.

Fifteen years after the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act, which many credit with a pronounced narrowing of the curriculum in public schools across the country, an earnest effort to reduce the most onerous mandates of the law is underway.

The conversation around school accountability is beginning to shift from a test-based model to a more holistic view of what we expect of our public schools. And advocates are making the case for a more robust role for arts education in the debate over reauthorization of NCLB.

In this space, New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio made a significant investment in arts and creative learning--$92 million over four years to be exact—and together with Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña is attempting to refocus schools towards broader measures of success.  Other big city mayor’s and superintendents have taken similar actions.

On the 2013 campaign trail, Mayor de Blasio heard from parents who wanted more arts and music in their child’s school. He heard from educators and elected officials alike about a narrowed curriculum and inequities in access to the arts in city schools. And he ultimately reached an agreement with the City Council to make a historic investment to expand the curriculum after years of retreat.

From a preliminary analysis of the initiative’s funding we are seeing that New York City public schools are benefitting from the increased investment in the arts and gaps in access are narrowing. Among other gains, city students have benefitted from the following:

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