Councilmember Justin Brannan proposed a bill on Thursday that would have the New York City Department of Education require all public school students from kindergarten through fifth grade to receive three hours of art and music education per school week.
Brannan said that elementary school years are a formative part of social, emotional, intellectual and sensory development during which children develop foundational skills that they use throughout their personal, academic, and professional lives. He said the arts allow children to actively experiment, which fosters a deeper level of engagement and a stronger desire to acquire knowledge.
“Music and art foster creativity, open-mindedness, and flexibility – skills that are needed to survive in today’s changing, interconnected, and increasingly digital world,” he said. “Luckily, we’re in a city with so many amazing non-profit art and music organizations that the DOE already works with who can help develop a real deal curriculum for kids.”
The bill also cites an analysis of four U.S. Department of Education longitudinal studies by the National Endowment for the Arts. The studies found that eighth-graders with high levels of art engagement from kindergarten to grade five received higher test scores in science and writing than students with a lower level of art engagement.
Among children with a low socioeconomic status, 74 percent of eighth-graders with a high level of art engagement aspired to graduate from college with a bachelor’s degree, compared to 43 percent with a low level of engagement.
A report by the NAMM Foundation found that more than 88 percent of teachers say music education helps children express themselves, become more confident, develop better study habits and display more self-control.
“It’s time to stop seeing music and art as ‘extra’, and to make these studies a required piece of every child’s public education,” said Brannan.