President Russell Granet, Lincoln Center Education
In a matter of days, the largest school system in the country prepares to receive the more than 1.1 million students who will one day look back and credit their public school education for their place in this world. Teachers are busy preparing their classrooms and reviewing curriculum; parents are ensuring all the boxes on their child’s back-to-school lists are checked; and students are savoring the last moments of summer freedom. The ‘back-to-school’ activities leading up to the first day of class seem to be as universal and timeless as education itself.
But education continues to change in today’s world of high-stake testing: in a recent press article, seventeen elementary school students from New York City were asked what, if anything, made them anxious about the first day of school. Ten of the first, second, third and fourth grade students mention state testing, homework, and grades as the leading cause of anxiety – more impactful than making new friends or whether their new teacher would like them.
At Lincoln Center Education, we don’t believe a single day of testing can determine a young person’s intelligence; nor do we believe the skills for lifelong success are given the proper time and weight in daily education. Skills that we believe are essential for success in the 21st century are: creativity, problem-solving, collaboration, communication, and imagination. As the world’s leading cultural center, we strive to bring the arts back into the center of daily life for everyone – particularly students, parents, teachers, and marginalized members of the community. We aim to use the highest quality of arts, like only Lincoln Center can, to level the playing field and close the opportunity gap for young people. As a result of our mission, LCE’s roster of free/low-cost program offerings are unlike those of any other cultural institution:
Arts Audition Boot Camp: In partnership with the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) and Lincoln Center constituent organizations, Carnegie Hall, and Studio in a School, prepares 8th grade students from Title 1 Middle Schools for competitive high school auditions (90 percent success rate compared to a city average of 60 percent). Starting this year, LCE will also provide high school mentorship for Boot Camp alums, supporting them as they prepare for college.
Arts in the Middle: In partnership with the NYCDOE, using ongoing arts engagement as a powerful tool for school improvement, working with fifteen middle schools across the city with low or no arts programming.
Lincoln Center Scholars: In partnership with Hunter College and the NYCDOE, educating and certifying the next generation of music, dance and theater teachers for NYC public schools.
Up And Away: The first piece of theater designed exclusively for young audiences with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their parents/caregivers.
The list of programs goes on—not just because the arts are an essential component of being human, but because preparing today’s young people for success in the 21st century (and supporting teachers and parents in this endeavor) is a communal and shared responsibility. #