Senator Serrano sent the following letter to Dept. of Education Chancellor Joel Klein in regards to art space for students:
January 6, 2009
Joel L. Klein
Chancellor, New York City Department of Education
52 Chambers Street
New York, New York 10007
Dear Chancellor Klein,
I would like to commend you for your commitment to education during your tenure as Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education. As the Department of Education prepares for the economic challenges of the years ahead, it is vital that consideration be placed on the allocation of classroom space dedicated to the arts.
To alleviate overcrowding in core curriculum classes, which have mandatory testing standards, schools are sacrificing the arts by converting arts classrooms into general education classrooms. Class Size Matters recently conducted a survey which reported that 25% of responding principals reported a loss of art, music, dance or drama space to general education classrooms during their time as principal.The trend to convert arts classrooms into general education classrooms has
compounded the spacing problem as it relates to the arts. In fact, the Department of Education's 2007-2008 "Annual Arts in Schools Report" concluded that the lack of adequate art space in schools was a challenge for 59% of the public schools in New York City.
In order to provide a well-rounded education for the schoolchildren of New York City, several steps should be taken. First, the Department of Education's 2010-2014 five-year capital plan for new school construction should provide adequate spacing for the arts by requiring arts space be incorporated into all new school designs and construction projects. Additionally, an inventory should be conducted to make certain existing educational facilities maintain their current art space. If implemented, these steps will help ensure that the schoolchildren of New York City receive the balanced education that they deserve.
Providing adequate classroom space in these difficult economic times will be very challenging. However, even in these tough times, I urge you to consider the importance of the arts in providing a well-rounded education for the students of New York City. Thank you very much for your concern on this very important issue. If I could be of any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact my office.
José M. Serrano