Mayor Rahm Emanuel is known for his love of the arts. But not for children in Chicago Public Schools.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wendy Katten, 773-704-0336
Raise Your Hand Survey Reveals Arts Instruction Sorely Lacking in CPS
65% of reporting schools do not offer two hours of weekly arts instruction, as stated by Mayor Emanuel
CHICAGO, February 20, 2014 — In a recent survey regarding arts instruction at Chicago Public Schools, education advocacy group, Raise Your Hand found the majority of schools are not able to offer two hours of arts instruction per week, contrary to publicly stated support for this by Mayor Emanuel.
The web-based survey, conducted in January and February 2014 includes responses from parents and teachers representing 170, or nearly one-third of CPS. The survey found other grave inequities in exposure to arts instruction across Chicago. Of 170 schools represented in the survey:
· 14% have no arts instruction
· 51% have less than two hours of arts instruction per week
· 26% have two hours of art instruction
· 9% have more than two hours of arts instruction
· 31% saw a decline in arts instruction this year.
“CPS has an arts plan that supports increased arts instruction but a per pupil funding allocation that barely covers the most basic fundamentals let alone robust arts programming,” said Wendy Katten, Director of Raise Your Hand. “If CPS truly wants all children in Chicago to be exposed to a rich arts curriculum as they state, they will need to increase the per pupil funding rate to allow for this.”
The CPS Arts plan states: “the case for the arts is clear. We know that arts education strongly correlates to substantially better student engagement, academic performance, test scores and college attendance, along with significantly decreased dropout rates and behavior problems. And we know that the correlations are strongest for low-income students…Even more, there is growing recognition that the arts contribute to essential 21st century skills like innovation, creativity, and critical thinking.”
Parent Sherise McDaniel of Manierre Elementary said, “My third grader doesn’t have one art or music class. We were thrilled when our school was taken off the closing list last year but our school has seen significant budget cuts and we lost our art teacher. I wish my son had two hours of art per week, or even one. We also lost our librarian due to budget cuts.”
According to survey responses, many parents are paying out of their own pockets for arts instruction at their children’s schools.
Parent Colleen Dillon from Burr Elementary said, “In order to stretch our budget this year, not only were we forced to have a split classroom for the first time, but we also lost our art teacher. Now, the only arts classes offered at Burr are parent-funded and the amount we can fund certainly does not equal two hours a week.”
In the comment section of the survey, many respondents shared frustration at current school budgets, which have been cut to the bone and do not allow for any kind of shift in priorities.
LSC member Jennifer Gierat of Byrne Elementary said, “At Byrne, we do not offer and have never offered two hours of art per week. And we will never be able to offer two hours of art per week under the current budget. The students receive 45-60 minutes of art per week depending on the grade level, and they receive no music instruction. We have one wonderful art teacher doing a fantastic job. The mayor’s claim that our school is providing more than that in this broken system is a distortion.”
About the survey:
Raise Your Hand conducted a non-scientific, web-based survey during the month of January and February. The survey data is based on responses from 444 people representing 170 CPS elementary schools across the city.
RYH asked its members to report the amount of arts instruction received at their school and members called or emailed other schools for information. Responses were aggregated based on information provided by 170 schools. Schools that did not reply are not included in the analysis. When confronted with contradictory reports on the amount of arts instruction at a single school the higher estimate was used in the data analysis. Therefore, any errors are likely to over-state the amount of arts education rather than under-state it.
About Raise Your Hand for Illinois Public Education: Raise Your Hand is a growing coalition of Chicago and Illinois public school parents, teachers and concerned citizens advocating for equitable and sustainable education funding, quality programs and instruction for all students and an increased parent voice in policy-making around education. http://www.ilraiseyourhand.org.