Once, the Philadelphia School District was a flagship for instruction in the arts, with certified music and art teachers in virtually every school. Today, it is struggling to rebuild that reputation as it faces tighter revenues, a shortage of qualified teachers, and pressure to spend more time on reading and math.
Today, less than a third of the city's public schools have both art and music teachers. The majority of the rest have one or the other, but 66 schools have neither, according to a Notebook analysis of teacher staffing patterns.
Philadelphia’s 268 schools include selective high schools requiring auditions that regularly turn out professional artists and also schools without even a part-time art or music teacher – with no formal course offerings in the arts. No matter where a school falls on that spectrum, there are likely to be teachers committed to offering quality arts instruction and arts experiences to their students.
As school districts across the nation respond to the challenges of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law, children are spending more classroom time on reading and math and as a result some are spending less time on music and art.