Will Music Disappear From Public School Education?

Ed. Note: July 31, 2003 — A joint statement was issued today by New York City Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin and NYC Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein in response to a New York Times report on Wednesday, July 23, 2003 stating that in order to meet new core requirements for literacy and math skills, classes devoted to music and other arts as well as classes in science and foreign languages would be greatly reduced.

We wonder what the implications of this will be not just in New York City but all over the country both in terms of the audience development as well as how it will affect the livelihood of many American composers and musicians who are involved in music education programs in schools.

We present the full text of the joint statement below and invite you to respond to it in our Forum on the bottom of this page.

JOINT STATEMENT BY CULTURAL AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER KATE D. LEVIN AND SCHOOLS CHANCELLOR JOEL I. KLEIN

On Wednesday, July 23, the New York Times reported that as middle schools accommodate the new core requirements in the schedule for literacy and math, certain other subjects, including the arts, are being reduced. As a result, some principals have reportedly reduced arts classes and teachers in their schools.

As Chancellor Klein stated in the Times article and on other occasions, the Department of Education is strongly committed to arts education for all students in New York City public schools. ProjectARTS funds have been included in the budgets for all 1,200 schools. Department staff, in partnership with members of the cultural community, are working to develop a coherent and comprehensive arts curriculum for the September 2004 school year.

Under the direction of Deputy Chancellor for Teaching and Learning Diana Lam, and with the leadership of our Regional Superintendents, middle school principals have received assistance in revising schedules to accommodate the new core curriculum. More specifically, when the Department first learned of problems at individual schools where principals have proposed reductions in arts classes and/or staff, memoranda were sent to middle school principals offering suggestions on how to accommodate the new core curriculum while still maintaining arts instruction. These suggestions include flexible scheduling for students and teachers, scheduling of additional periods with ProjectARTS funds and the integration of humanities instruction in the teaching of literacy and math as well as additional classes on Saturdays. Moreover, where scheduling problems have been identified, the relevant Regional Superintendents and Local Instructional Superintendents have worked directly with individual principals when this problem has been identified and will continue to do so, with the goal of including the arts wherever possible as schedules are modified.

The process of introducing a new citywide curriculum presents many challenges. It is our goal to improve student achievement in the core subjects of literacy and math citywide. We want to emphasize, however, that we believe that the arts are an important component of a first-rate education and that we will work to include and enhance arts education in all schools in the New York City public school system.