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Betsy Combier

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The E-Accountability Foundation announces the

'A for Accountability' Award

to those who are willing to whistleblow unjust, misleading, or false actions and claims of the politico-educational complex in order to bring about educational reform in favor of children of all races, intellectual ability and economic status. They ask questions that need to be asked, such as "where is the money?" and "Why does it have to be this way?" and they never give up. These people have withstood adversity and have held those who seem not to believe in honesty, integrity and compassion accountable for their actions. The winners of our "A" work to expose wrong-doing not for themselves, but for others - total strangers - for the "Greater Good"of the community and, by their actions, exemplify courage and self-less passion. They are parent advocates. We salute you.

Winners of the "A":

Johnnie Mae Allen
David Possner
Dee Alpert
Aaron Carr
Harris Lirtzman
Hipolito Colon
Jim Calantjis
Larry Fisher
The Giraffe Project and Giraffe Heroes' Program
Jimmy Kilpatrick and George Scott
Zach Kopplin
Matthew LaClair
Wangari Maathai
Erich Martel
Steve Orel, in memoriam, Interversity, and The World of Opportunity
Marla Ruzicka, in Memoriam
Nancy Swan
Bob Witanek
Peyton Wolcott
[ More Details » ]
Opinion: Hold NYC Schools Accountable for Arts Education
Folding arts and creative learning opportunities into the school accountability system could help alleviate the inequality that exists in our schools, complementing the new investment of funding by the Mayor, Chancellor and City Council, and ensuring greater access to a well-rounded education that includes the arts.
Opinion: Hold NYC Schools Accountable for Arts Education
Thursday, November 13, 2014 - 04:00 AM

By Daniel Dromm / Eric Pryor

New York City public schools no longer get a single letter grade and test scores are less and less the singular focus of accountability, as the new school quality snapshots unveiled this week by Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña demonstrated. These two changes come as a welcome relief to many parents, and to students and educators, who experienced firsthand the past decade’s overemphasis on testing and test prep.

Still, education officials should take the quality assessments a step further by making it explicit that schools are expected – and required by state law – to provide arts classes and programs, and baking in a level of accountability that incentivizes it.

Our schools’ responsibility is to provide students with the ingredients and framework for success upon graduation, and we know a narrow curriculum focused on standardized testing fails to achieve this for students. Fortunately, the current chancellor and mayor clearly understand this too.

We applaud Mayor Bill de Blasio and the entire City Council for approving an additional $23 million in the education budget annually to expand arts education citywide — totaling $92 million over the next four years. This initiative is a sound investment in our students’ futures and also an important step towards addressing educational disparities at public schools across the city. Some of these were highlighted in a report by City Comptroller Scott Stringer that revealed over 300 city schools lacked a single arts teacher on staff last year, with a disproportionate number of these schools in low-income communities in the South Bronx and Central Brooklyn.

A growing body of research shows that the arts are essential in developing well-rounded children who have the ability to think creatively, problem solve, and see and know the world from diverse perspectives. We also know students need to graduate high school with a wide array of skills and competencies to become productive members of society and to keep New York and our nation competitive.

The chancellor’s new school report cards, while providing more focus on college and career readiness, have yet to detail several data points that provide a ripe opportunity to clarify and ensure the inclusion of arts in the accountability framework. Most specifically is where an independent educator rates how well the school provides an “interesting and challenging curriculum.”

This should be more specific with respect to the arts. This is an opportunity for The Department of Education to let parents and decision-makers know whether or not schools are providing the required coursework in the arts, as well as information about the partnerships schools have with arts or cultural organizations.

We'd also like to know the number of licensed arts teachers on staff and whether or not there are appropriate spaces for quality dance, music, theater and visual arts instruction.

The city collects ample data on arts instruction and the city’s Office of Arts and Special Projects is expanding arts education in new and exciting ways. And, as the cultural capital of the country, New York is fortunate to have a diverse array of arts and cultural educational opportunities—skilled arts instructors and professional artists—available for our students.

The chancellor said recently she was hearing that more parents are choosing middle schools with strong arts programs. Including the arts in the new quality review, would provide parents with the information that they both want and need as they make critical choices about which school their child should attend. It can also provide them with key information that can be used to advocate for more resources and an expanded curricula in city schools.

Folding arts and creative learning opportunities into the school accountability system could help alleviate the inequality that exists in our schools, complementing the new investment of funding by the Mayor, Chancellor and City Council, and ensuring greater access to a well-rounded education that includes the arts.

City Council Member Daniel Dromm represents the 25th District in Queens and is chair of the Council’s Education Committee.
Eric Pryor is the executive director of The Center for Arts Education.

© 2003 The E-Accountability Foundation