Few Active in Promoting Arts Education in Schools and Communities
WARREN, N.J. – Most Monmouth and Ocean County citizens believe arts education is important for students, according to a Rutgers-Eagleton Poll in partnership with Arts Ed NJ for the Arts Ed Now campaign and the mindALIGNED initiative. Nine in 10 Monmouth and Ocean County residents say that receiving an education in the arts – which includes lessons in dance, music, theater, visual arts, media arts, and other forms of creativity – is “very” or “somewhat” important in the classroom (90 percent), through before or after school programs (90 percent), and through cultural organizations in their community (87 percent).
Likewise, half or more of residents believe arts education is just as important as a whole range of other subjects, including English language arts (59 percent), science (54 percent), social studies (59 percent), health and physical education (53 percent), math (49 percent) and world languages (49 percent); a plurality feel this way when arts education is compared to computer science (43 percent) and career and life skills classes (38 percent).
Furthermore, Monmouth and Ocean County residents believe that arts education can help students “a lot” in becoming more creative and imaginative (87 percent), building confidence (81 percent), improving communication skills (74 percent), becoming more tolerant of other cultures (66 percent), developing discipline and perseverance (67 percent), improving overall academic performance (56 percent), or gaining workforce readiness and career skills (52 percent).
Yet while Monmouth and Ocean County residents largely agree that arts education is an essential part of learning, they are somewhat mixed on how well it is being taught. When asked to grade how they feel public schools in their area are doing in terms of providing arts education, 16 percent of residents award an “A” letter grade, 32 percent a “B,” and 26 percent a “C.” This is slightly lower than the average grade residents assign to other core subjects like math (28 percent “A’s”), English (26 percent “A’s”), science (33 percent “A’s”), and social studies (19 percent give “A’s”), as well as computer science (22 percent “A’s”), world language (22 percent “A’s”) and physical education (24 percent “A’s”). Only life skills classes (11 percent “A’s”) receive worse grades than the arts from Monmouth and Ocean County residents.
Monmouth and Ocean County residents are also mixed on whether students have enough opportunities to participate in arts education in the classroom during the school day (22 percent “strongly agree” that they do, 32 percent “somewhat agree”), through before or after school programs (24 percent “strongly agree,” 38 percent “somewhat agree”), or through community organizations (16 percent “strongly agree,” 34 percent “somewhat agree”).
A plurality of Monmouth and Ocean County residents (39 percent) believe their local public school district does not spend enough on arts education; 36 percent believe their local district spends the right amount, and just 4 percent believe their district spends too much. When it comes to the arts, in general, almost all residents believe they should be funded by government in some form – whether by local government (14 percent), state government (17 percent), or both (61 percent).
Despite considerable support for the arts, sizable numbers don’t participate in activities that help to promote and increase arts education. More than half have not taken a child to a program or event (55 percent), donated or raised money (66 percent), volunteered (68 percent), or shared something on social media related to the arts (57 percent) in their local schools or communities within the past year. Almost half have not discussed arts programs or events with others (45 percent), nearly four in 10 (37 percent) have not attended an arts program or event themselves, and over a third (37 percent) have not encouraged a child to participate in an arts program or event. One in five residents have not done any of these activities.
Moreover, nearly half of respondents have not spoken about arts education in any way – whether with teachers, school administrators and elected officials, or in public meetings or on social media.
“This survey confirms what we have long suspected,” stated Robert Morrison, co-director of Arts Ed NJ. “While there is almost universal support for arts education in our schools, the public does not believe there is enough emphasis on, or resources to support, these programs. As the state transitions to focusing on a ‘well-rounded education’ as part of the Every Student Succeeds Act, this is an important moment for districts across the state in general, and Monmouth and Ocean Counties in particular to examine their arts education programs and look for ways to improve opportunities for all.”
One program extolling the virtues of arts-rich schools and communities is mindALIGNED, an effort spearheaded by the nonprofit Count Basie Theatre, in partnership with the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation, OceanFirst Foundation, Monmouth University, county freeholders and arts councils and the Monmouth County Department of Education.
mindALIGNED’s innovative approach provides schools with professional development, program materials, follow-through and data to support its mission of creative learning and teaching. By 2030, the mindALIGNED goal is for every school district and community in Monmouth and Ocean counties to be designated as arts-rich.
“People value the arts and understand its importance,” says Adam Philipson, President and CEO, Count Basie Theatre. “But as the data supports they may shy from taking that extra step of participating — and this exactly what mindALIGNED strives to improve. Our goal is making the classrooms more creative and the arts more accessible and prevalent in Monmouth and Ocean counties.”
Results are from an oversample of a statewide poll, which included 200 adults from Monmouth and Ocean Counties, contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Aug. 24-28, 2017. The sample has a margin of error of +/-8.1 percentage points. Interviews were done in English and, when requested, Spanish.
About Arts Ed NJ
Arts Ed NJ is the unified voice for arts education in New Jersey. Formerly the New Jersey Arts Education Partnership, Arts Ed NJ was founded in 2007 by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, New Jersey Department of Education and Music for All Foundation with additional support from the ArtPride New Jersey Foundation. The mission of Arts Ed NJ is to provide a unified voice for a diverse group of constituents who agree on the educational benefits and impact of the arts, specifically the contribution they make to student achievement and a civilized, sustainable society. Additional information is available at www.artsednj.org.
mindALIGNED is a creative learning initiative which provides arts-based professional development strategies to Monmouth and Ocean County teachers. mindALIGNED’s mission is noble: a reinvigoration of learning, greater engagement and test scores, and a brighter classroom experience for teachers, students and parents alike. By 2030, the goal is for every school district and community in Monmouth and Ocean counties to become mindALIGNED and designated as arts-rich.
mindALIGNED is a collective impact initiative spearheaded by the nonprofit Count Basie Theatre in partnership with the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation, OceanFirst Foundation, Monmouth University, Arts Ed NJ, county freeholders and arts councils and the Monmouth County Department of Education. mindALIGNED’s arts partners include the Algonquin Arts Theater, the Garden State Philharmonic, Lakehouse Music Academy, Two River Theater and Young Audiences For Learning. For more information, visit www.mind-aligned.org
About Arts Ed Now
Arts Ed Now is a statewide campaign to increase active participation in arts education in all schools in New Jersey. Studies show that students who participate in arts education do better in school and in life. Unfortunately, not all NJ students have the access or information to increase their participation in arts education. The Arts Ed Now campaign identifies ways to increase participation in arts education and garner public support to put a spotlight on the issue – and is designed to be customized at a local grassroots level for more impact. The “Campaign Central” website www.ArtsEdNow.org features stories, tools and ways for citizens to become better ambassadors – together. This project is supported in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Geraldine R Dodge Foundation, Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation and an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visitwww.arts.gov.