June 3, 2020

Arts Education For All Is Urged by Campaign

As policymakers plan for school reopening in the fall, Arts Ed NJ joined 53 other organizations in a statement that supports an arts education for all students.

In the statement, “Arts Education Is Essential,” the signing organizations convey that the arts have already played a pivotal and uplifting role during the health crisis, and that arts education can help all students, including those who are in traditionally underrepresented groups, as students return to school next year.

“Arts Education Is Essential” speaks to arts education’s role in supporting the social and emotional well-being of students, an area that administrators, educators, and parents have highlighted as essential to student safety and success during the pandemic and as students return to school, whether in-person, online, or in a blended fashion, this fall. Arts education also creates a welcoming school environment and a healthy and inclusive school community, helping students, educators, parents, and the community at large build and strengthen their connectedness during this time of social isolation and social distancing.

The statement also reminds the public that arts education is a part of a well-rounded education as defined by the federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and supported in state laws throughout the country. Forty-six states require an arts credit to receive a high school diploma, and 43 states have instructional requirements in the arts in elementary and secondary schools. New Jersey requires arts education for all students in grades K-8 and has a one year graduation requirement.

“It is vitally important to advocate for arts education now, as our school districts begin to undertake the challenging task of planning the 2020–2021 school year,” said Robert B. Morrison, director of Arts Ed NJ. “We need to remind policymakers at all levels that the arts are part of a complete and well-rounded education that every student regardless of background must receive. Given New Jersey history of providing universal access to arts education in all of our schools, it is imperative for our students to have these programs to help with their educational and social and emotional learning, especially for those students in need of support in these difficult times.”

Arts Ed NJ has been helping arts educators prepare for the return to school in the fall. Advocacy and support efforts include a September Ready Taskforce, a personalized letter to superintendents, and other measures. Arts Ed NJ will host the New Jersey Arts Ed Summit 2020 on June 16-18.

The arts education community has been active during this pandemic in providing administrators, educators, and other stakeholders guidance and support, as well as forward-thinking planning for arts educators and district arts supervisors to take a lead as school districts make plans for the next school year.