New York City Mayor Eric Adams is imposing budget cuts on the public schools, and teachers of the arts are getting laid off first. Cutting the arts is incredibly stupid. Many students are motivated to attend school because of their involvement with the arts. Anyone who cuts the arts cuts joy, cuts creativity, cuts love of learning. Is Mayor Adams trying to drive students to charter schools to satisfy the billionaire hedge funders who supported his election?

On June 13, Paul Trust was called into the principal’s office at the PS 39 elementary school in Park Slope, Brooklyn, where he had taught music for over a decade.

In the meeting, the school’s administration told Trust that his job was in jeopardy and letting him go was the “worst-case scenario.” But after the principal met with the Borough Central Office to discuss her 2023 budget, that scenario became the reality: Trust would be “excessed,” or laid off from his position. And the school told its only other music teacher Nick Deutsch, who had been there for six years, the same thing, effectively eliminating its music department.

PS 39 was forced to decrease spending by 14%, one of approximately 1,200 district schools in New York — 77% of the city’s total — that were told to cut their budget by a specific dollar amount after Mayor Eric Adams slashed school funding by over $200 million. The cuts are tied to enrollment declines, which the majority of NYC schools experienced over the course of the pandemic. Budget decisions are at the discretion of the schools’ principals, and arts departments, already under-funded despite representing a “core academic subject,” are not protected…

In NYC, there are no allocations or guidelines mandating arts funding in schools. Reversing a 1997 initiative that earmarked arts spending per student, Mayor Mike Bloomberg eliminated mandates for the 2007 school year, allowing school principals to use previously allocated arts funding on anythingthey chose. The impact was immediate: That year, the percentage of schools without a certified art teacher rose from 20% to 30%, and spending on art supplies fell by 63%. …

The 2023 budget cuts could shrink NYC arts education programs even further, threatening the careers of public school arts teachers and leaving them with an uncertain future.