NY State Senator for the Arts in Schools
It's stunning and wonderful to read an eloquent and informed piece by such a high-ranking and powerful public leader. What's better than his educated opinions in support of the arts? Reading about the actions he's already taken to help put the arts back in NY's schools.
Here are some choice bits.
Perhaps it would be prudent to teach the arts only when we are confident that our young people can read, write and count proficiently, and when our society is generally more prosperous. In other words, is arts education significant, especially in a time of economic distress?
The issue of arts education brings us to the basic question of what type of society we wish to build. Today's eighth graders are the next generation of civic and business leaders. The cultural heritage of the state of New York, be it visual, architectural or musical, will be in their hands. If we want future generations to appreciate and see value in architectural icons like the Brooklyn Bridge, music forms like jazz and salsa, and painters like Edward Hopper, we need to introduce young people to them now. No matter what their ethnic, cultural or class background, a sound arts education strengthens our children's connection to their communities and to broader society.
We must hold ourselves -- our parents, our students, our elected officials, our school administrators -- accountable on arts education. For this reason, I signed onto the mayoral control amendments sponsored by Democratic Conference Leader John L. Sampson. In addition, I have introduced legislation mandating a statewide audit to monitor compliance with laws and regulations governing arts education. I have also introduced a resolution in the legislature that will designate October as "Arts Education Month." Two partners, the Center for Arts Education and the New York State Alliance for Arts Education, have joined these efforts.
No one can deny that continued and positive exposure to the arts and New York's rich and multi-faceted cultural heritage is a sound investment for our children. Let's not use our current political and budgetary challenges as an excuse to deny them this opportunity.