Education Leaders Hear Call to Action to Bring Arts Education to All NJ Students.
Unite on Important Role Arts Education Plays in Educating the “Whole Child”
More than 100 arts education leaders and education officials gathered in October at the Arts Ed Summit 2015 to plot the future direction for arts education in New Jersey. The group reflected on the passed and planned for the future inspired by the impassioned words of former Governor Tom Kean who urged the group to fight for arts education’s rightful place in the lives of New Jersey students.
Reflecting on his own strong support for the arts and arts education Governor Kean stated, “I guess what I’m telling you is don’t accept that something will get done in a good cause like the arts. Work for it. Do what you have to do to get it. Be a little militant if you have to be militant,” he said to the gathering held at the conference center of the state’s principals and supervisors association.
While the recent school performance reports tells us arts education is available to most students in the state, a variety of challenges remain: the majority of schools fail to offer instruction in all four mandated disciplines, per pupil arts spending has decreased and educators across the state are grappling with the rising tide of common core standards and state-mandated tests leading to the unintended consequences of displacing the value of creative work and decreased time and access for arts education.
These issues and more were addressed at the summit by leaders of the state’s top education organizations including: Mark Biedron – President, New Jersey State Board of Education; Dr. Richard Bozza – Executive Director, New Jersey Association of School Administrators; Dr. Larry Feinsod – Executive Director, New Jersey School Boards Association; Dr. Mary Reece – Director, Foundation for Educational Administration and Wendell Steinhauer – President, New Jersey Education Association.
One of the major revelations from the meeting was the total agreement that arts education is, and must remain, a key component of a complete education. Each panelist spoke of the importance of the arts in educating the “whole child, “and that both local schools and state leaders need to make sure arts education requirements are being met.
Mark Biedron, president of the State Board of Education, said a serious review currently underway will reinforce such priorities.
“This is really a tipping point right now in the area of education, and where we are with our curriculum and where we might be going in the next 10 or 15 years,” Biedron said. “Children need to be more than just college and career ready…arts education speaks to the necessary new habits of mind.”
New Jersey School Administrators Association’s Executive Director Dr. Richard Bozza noted, “We need to remember that these important parts of our curriculum — including the arts — are on par, have the same standing, as those subjects that are tested.”
During the afternoon, attendees heard from assistant commissioners of education Dr. Bari Erlichson and Kimberley Harrington. Both acknowledged the need for better communication with district and school leaders regarding the role of the arts in meeting both the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards, Common Core State Standards and incorporating the arts into STEM.
The goal of Arts Ed Summit 2015 is to address current issues and develop long-term plans to ensure all New Jersey students may participate in a quality education that includes the arts. To that end, attendees met in breakout sessions to devise strategies and action steps to create the agenda for arts education in New Jersey. Many of the ideas will be incorporated into the upcoming campaignArtsEdNow.
The meeting also paid tribute to the work of former Governor Tom Kean in honor of his efforts to support robust arts education programs in New Jersey’s schools through his creation and ardent support of the New Jersey Literacy in the Arts Task Force nearly 30 years ago.
Watch the video from the Arts Ed 2015 Summit
Read the NJ Spotlight article on the 2015 Arts Ed Summit
The Arts Ed Summit 2015 was presented by the New Jersey Arts Education Partnership, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the Geraldine R Dodge Foundation, and the Foundation for Education Administration. Additional support was provided by Art Educators of New Jersey, ArtPride New Jersey Foundation, Dance New Jersey, New Jersey Department of Education, New Jersey Music Educators Association and the Speech Theatre Association of New Jersey.