It represents just 1.5 percent of the city schools budget and often gets left out of education stump speeches, but arts education got the mayoral field’s full attention on Tuesday night at a forum at Teachers College Columbia University.
During a rotation of 12-minute interviews with public radio hosts Kurt Anderson and Leonard Lopate, a slew of candidates were each asked a version of the same question: Will you do a better job in funding arts education?
Arts programs in schools across the country have been the first to get cut as districts faced with economic downturns shifted their priorities toward meeting state standards in reading and math. Under the Bloomberg administration, arts spending has wavered around $300 million, or about $300 per student, a disbursement that each candidate said was not good enough.
While all the candidates said they’d spend more than the current annual totals, none pledged a specific dollar amount.
“It’s always dangerous to pick a number,” said Bill Thompson.
Thompson said that arts education had to be a part of how schools are evaluated, an idea that other candidates have proposed as well. When asked how he’d do that, Thompson said he’d require principals to allot more of their schools’ budgets to arts programs and hold them accountable if they didn’t