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The New York Observer: Teaching the Arts on the Cheap

When I was interviewing for my position at The Center for Arts Education, I called a senior NYC education official to seek advice. My friend at the NYCDOE was very enthusiastic about the prospect of my being hired, until eerily, the issue of arts education advocacy came up.I asserted that a major area of opportunity was in the arena of advocacy, since there was still so much need unmet. I got a rather quick and forceful counter assertion: "oh no, advocacy is not the way to go, after all, we (the NYCDOE) cannot have CAE telling us what to to." … [Read more...]

A Moment of Clarity: Test Scores in New York State Are Recalibrated

Many of you have no doubt heard the great news over the past few years about rising ELA and math test scores in the New York City Public Schools. But wait, there was more: test scores were rising all across the state, no matter what the intervention.The New York State Department of Education has recalibrated the state test scores for ELA and math, and this moment of clarity tells us that "just more than half of city students in the third through eighth grades are proficient in math, not four out of every five, as they were led to believe last … [Read more...]

NYC Teacher Layoffs Averted?

Even with the state budget in flux, this morning the news broke that the City will cancel proposed teacher layoffs, choosing instead to cancel proposed salary increases for the next two years. Emails started to fly, with people cheering the good news. But not so fast, The city was in the middle of contract negotiations with the UFT, and while the city can certainly choose to not layoff any teachers, changing the terms of the contract negotiations in public seems like an interesting move to say the least. My dad would have called it "trying to … [Read more...]

Guest Arts Education Blogger, Jon Deak: Creating Music with El Sistema, Part Six

Click here for Part Five Caracas, 13 de Abril, 2010 Having been so blown away by the rehearsal of the Simón Bolívar orchestra the previous Friday (see Part Three), and totally involved with planning these Young Composer classes, one might excuse me if attending the concert of the Mahler 7th Symphony this Tuesday evening would be somewhat of a let-down. But no. Even though Richard Mannoia was totally ill and could not attend, even though I myself was exhausted, this turned out to be an evening to remember for the rest of my life. First of all, … [Read more...]

Proposal to Scorch the Earth in Toledo Public Schools

There are times when the little policy matters seems irrelevant. Who cares if a subject is declared "core" by your state department of education or USDOE?Take a good look at this story coming out of Toledo. It is a rather stunning example of how a school district is proposing the elimination of all certified arts and physical education teachers and justifying it by declaring that the state doesn't deem the arts and physical education to be a core subject.Why fight for arts education positive policies?Your answer is in this new piece: click here … [Read more...]

American Teacher Magazine on Arts Education: Part Two

Last month the American Teacher Magazine, which has a circulation of over one million, had a cover story on arts education.  They have followed-up on the cover story, with a series of pieces submitted by educators from across the country, about the value of arts education.Click here to read the March/April edition of the American Teacher and its follow-up story on arts education in America.I have been told by sources, that the response by teachers to the January/February cover story on arts education, was the largest in years, as measured … [Read more...]

The School District Arts Czar: Mistaking the Piece for the Puzzle

I was talking recently with a friend and colleague who expressed disappointment over how things turned out with the appointment of the arts education czar in her local school district. She spoke about how much effort went into advocating with district leadership for the creation of the position, how enormously high the hopes were for success, and how different the relationship between the czar and the arts education community ended up being from what was initially envisioned.I was once part of creating such a position. In 1994, as part of the … [Read more...]

The True Nature of Mayoral Control Strikes Hard for 19 School Communities

Sometimes people lose track of what mayoral control means, particularly the pure form that we have in New York City. In New York City, it means that the mayor controls the schools and can do whatever he wants, for he appoints the majority of the the local school board (the Panel for Educational Policy) and can remove his appointees at anytime for any reason whatsoever.The vote by the PEP, the "fake school board," as some call it, was the best animation of mayoral control that we've seen in a long time. For those of you who live in another city, … [Read more...]

Reflections on the Possible Closing of My High School: Beach Channel High School

It makes for a really great chest-beating sound-bite: "we just closed another low performing school!" It's all the rage in New York City, at the USDOE, and at many other urban school districts: School Turnaround. And, although the term denotes a number of possible strategies, it almost always connotes the closing of a school. And, you may ask what happens to the building after closure? Very often the building is given over to a charter school. Naturally, this ends up being a factor behind the closing of these schools and the question of who … [Read more...]

The Sweet Spot for Schools and Cultural Organzations

I once had a colleague complain to me about the disparities in quality among those organizations providing services to schools. Some programs were great; others were terrible. Some artists where thoughtfully developed and supported to work in schools; others were simply booked into the gig. Some organizations spent a great deal of time on reflective practice; others did nothing. You get the point. My colleague suggested that something should be done to establish and enforce quality. In essence he was talking about the creation of some sort of … [Read more...]

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