Students work at an easel together.

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A new study conducted by the office of New York State controller Thomas P. DiNapoli found that almost all new high school graduates have completed mandatory art lessons. The study examined data from New York City’s Education Department, and the numbers are significantly better than they were only 4 years ago in 2011.

Now, 95% of the students surveyed in 2014 had finished their art education, compared to only about half of students surveyed in 2011. The study also discovered that the city is doing a better job of meeting state rules for art instruction, and keeping track of whether or not students meet those rules.

The healthier numbers are thanks in part to healthier funding for the city’s public schools. Close to $22 million was raised recently. The funds will pay for new art teachers, the implementation of new programs, and new facilities for the arts. Included in the budget is a new program called Arts Mondays, which provides monthly lessons in dance, music, theater, and visual arts.

“The new Arts Mondays program is a critical piece of our work to give support to teachers in providing all students with rich and rigorous arts learning,” says Paul King, executive director of the state’s Department of Education’s Office of Arts and Special Projects. “This brand-new program brings our art teachers together to share best practices, reflect on their own work with colleagues, and learn from each other.”

Bill de Blasio, New York City mayor, hopes that every student in the city receives an art education that meets state standards. The pledge was included in his campaign for mayor. But he is optimistic, as is Doug Israel, director of research and policy at the Center for Arts Education. He believes the additional state funding for the arts is a “game-changer” for students, making art education more widely available and valued. “All the data shows students are more engaged when they have arts as part of the school day curriculum,” he said.

Art instruction is a necessary part of any education, and it’s good to see it making a return as an esteemed component of public schools in New York City.