Though states across the nation have been suffering from budget cuts and loss of funding, New York is doing its best to keep its school art programs alive. In 2009, New York City schools surpassed previous years in arts classes available, and more students enrolled in these classes, according to the Department of Education.
Despite the number of art classes currently offered in New York City schools, the district has dedicated a smaller portion of their budget to art education, reducing the expenditure on the necessary supplies by 63%. The ability to maintain a lively arts program regardless of the budget cuts becomes more necessary every year, as New York can expect almost $200 million dollar cuts in the future, as reported by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in the annual study of arts education.
New York has fostered pride in their schools by assigning grades to schools in the district that meet expectations, earn positive reviews from students and parents and assign budgets wisely. Grades are based on testimonials from students, parents and teachers and a variety of other elements. The grades are posted on the school’s website, and principals are judged according to the success of their school and the efficiency of their work. Mayor Bloomberg approved the controversial rating system, arguing that the ratings maintain credibility.
Despite the growth of the arts programs, more than half of New York principals are claiming budget cuts as an impediment to a more vibrant arts program. Less than half of middle schools meet state standards for arts education and only 8% of elementary schools are reaching expectations. However, this still represents an improvement, as the previous percentage for elementary schools was only 4%.
Budget cuts are growing by the year. There will be a two and a half percent cut his year, and twice as much the next year. Educators and administrators need to fight to keep their programs strong. Some economists have suggested putting aside money for the arts in particular, as the current policy of allowing principals to choose the levels of funding has failed. Many schools ignore their arts program in favor of tested subjects, like English and math.
Reaching across the map, in the last year, more than half of American states have announced that they will be slashing budget allowances for education. Maine has reduced funding per student by approximately $140, as has Florida. Maryland, Massachusetts and Nevada are limiting their gifted and talented student programs, which will stop music education. These states are also expanding their budget cuts this year with even further proposals. Colorado and Idaho are reducing overall funds to public schools, meaning that districts will be cutting funding to arts education.
California, like New York, is looking at huge education cuts in the upcoming year. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed over four billion dollars in educational cuts to a state that has already been limiting funding to its schools. Administrators are expecting the limits on class sizes to be done away with, block scheduling forbidden, and sweeping job losses. Arts programs in Californian schools are as good as forgotten.