Artful accountability

Was it a furtive trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a secret love affair with the way Cézanne depicts apples and pears, that caused New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein to hold principals accountable for the quality of their arts programs? Perhaps not. But whatever their motivation (Fordham's latest report, perhaps?), Bloomberg and Klein have decided to include arts standards in the Big Apple's new school report card program, which begins this fall. The plan received only tepid praise from skeptical arts advocates; just a few months ago, the NYC Department of Education eliminated a multi-million dollar program for arts education. (Principals will now be able to use that money as they see fit.)  Mayor Bloomberg supported that decision, and pointed out that "money alone will not improve student outcomes in the arts or any other subject. Money doesn't make the difference, accountability does." He may be right; it certainly seems true that accountability for math and reading alone leads schools to ignore other subjects, including the arts (more evidence on that front came out just this week). Let the renaissance begin!

"Bloomberg Announces Plan to Shore Up Arts in Schools," by Jennifer Medina, New York Times, July 24, 2007