While talent helps, students also need knowledge, expertise and polish to get into dozens of New York City public school arts programs that use auditions and portfolios to screen applicants. Although these schools have largely escaped the rancorous debate over selective admissions policies, they raise many of the same concerns about equity, class and race.
With pieces dating back to the early 20th century, the city’s public schools are home to almost 2,000 works encompassing realistic murals depicting the city’s history, giant pieces on exterior walls, playground installations that teach children about sound, fanciful fences and wall installations with nooks and crannies for students to explore. Faith Ringgold, Keith Haring, Romare Bearden and Carrie Mae Weems are among the many prominent artists represented.
After two pandemic years that wrought havoc on all education but particularly on arts classes, advocates and educators have mounted a drive to win more—and more permanent—funding for visual art, music, dance and theater in the city’s public schools.
“People who do this work love it. You have to love working with people,” says State Assemblymember Karines Reyes, who is a nurse. But she adds, “If you can get a job doing work that’s not as heavy and not as demanding and make more money, why wouldn’t you?”
City residents looking for alternatives to nursing home care, particularly those with limited incomes, confront an array of hurdles: lack of affordable housing, a shortage of safe and accessible apartments, not enough home health care aides and waiting lists at many programs.
Some older workers are retiring earlier than they had planned, a trend that could accelerate if the city provides incentives to encourage them to leave their jobs. While some people leaving the workforce look forward to a life of leisure, others will be forced to scramble for health insurance, dip into savings and receive lower Social Security benefits than they otherwise would have.
On Social Security, healthcare, housing and food support, Joe Biden and Donald Trump offer different visions to older New Yorkers.
The de Blasio administration has no schedule for reopening the centers, and it seems likely the centers will not offer in-person services until 2021.
It will take more than new language or better lessons. Who’s teaching, who’s learning and the very nature of how social studies are taught and tested are also in play.
But with desegregation an increasingly urgent goal, how long will it last?