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BRINGING BACK THE ARTS IN QUEENS

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by Vance Mark

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When school districts’ budgets are under-funded, often the first thing to be eliminated is arts education. When that happens, in comes the Center for Arts Education (CAE).


Middle school students enact a poem about African American history in a Parents As Arts Partners after-school workshop.
Photo: Kit Kittle

   Now, with the support of The New York Times Company Foundation and the New York City Department of Education, CAE has created a new program called School Arts Support Initiative (SASI).  Through it, CAE has established a grant to provide services and performances in arts education for three schools that have few or no such programs. CAE’s goal for SASI is to provide students with opportunities for success beyond academics. Independent evaluators will monitor the impact of SASI’s efforts during the program’s two-year pilot phase.  Based on the findings, SASI may be expanded to a larger network of schools.

   One of the three schools in the pilot program is Queens’ J.H.S. 231, Magnetech 2000/Tri-Community Junior High School, which serves Springfield Gardens, Laurelton and Rosedale.  The school’s art and music programs were cut back, leaving only part-time art and music teachers and a drama class one day a week.  SASI hopes to enable the school to restore some of these resources. M.S. 267, the Math, Science and Technology Institute in Brooklyn, and M.S. 223, the Laboratory School of Finance and Technology in the Bronx, were also chosen to take part in the SASI program.

   How the arts can influence the way education is brought to students varies. Studying early Asian art, for instance, can shed light on that culture’s politics, society and economics. Each has its own vision as to what their students need to develop, and SASI will work with them to develop programs that can achieve those goals through the arts.

   In the 10 years since CAE began providing grants to schools in support of art education, those schools have reported increased attendance and improved school culture.




 


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