Pratt Institute’s Art and Design Education community recently had a chance to publicly advocate for an issue near to its heart: the lack of instruction in art and design in the New York City Public Schools.

On April 7, New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer released a report mapping arts education in public schools throughout the city. The result: 21 percent of public schools lack any certified arts teachers—even though state law requires instruction in the arts for middle and high school students. Strikingly, more than 55 percent of schools that lack either full-time or part-time certified arts teachers are located in the South Bronx and Central Brooklyn, Pratt’s area.

The report argues that, due to President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act, the city cut its arts budget to focus on increasing instruction in English and math, the results of which are measured with standardized tests.

The day the report came out, Stringer held a press conference, which was attended by two members of the Art and Design Education Department: Acting Chair Aileen Wilson and Associate Professor Heather Lewis. The Department offers programs that lead to initial teacher certification in the visual arts. It also runs the Youth Programs that include Saturday Art School, which provides art and design classes to more than 300 children and young people every semester. Scholarships are given to families with limited resources.

“At Pratt, we’ve long been concerned about the decline in art and design instruction in New York City public schools, especially its disproportionate effects on low-income communities particularly in central Brooklyn,” says Wilson.

Image: An easel from Comptroller Scott Stringer’s rally on April 7 to support expanding arts education in New York City Public Schools. (Photo credit: Aileen Wilson)