In a recent survey regarding arts instruction at Chicago Public Schools, Raise Your Hand found the majority of schools are not able to offer two hours of arts instruction per week, contrary to Mayor Emanuel’s publicly stated assurances. The web-based survey, conducted in January and February 2014 includes responses from parents and teachers representing 170 or nearly one third of CPS schools. The survey also found other grave inequities in exposure to arts instruction across Chicago.
Of 170 schools surveyed, parents say:
- 14% of schools have no arts instruction
- 51% of schools 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
“CPS has an arts plan that supports increased arts instruction but a per pupil funding allocation that clearly does not,” 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 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."
31% of survey respondents said arts instruction declined at their school this year.
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 budget cuts and we lost our art teacher this year. I wish my son had two hours of art per week, or even one. We also lost our librarian due to budget cuts two years ago.”
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 that there is no room to shift priorities in spending. 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. We received replies from and reports from 170 schools. Schools that did not reply are not included in the study; schools had to report they had no arts instruction. When we received contradictory reports on the amount of arts instruction we took the higher or highest estimate. Therefore, any errors are likely to over-state the amount of arts education rather than under-state it.