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Monthly Archives: September 2014

Arts in N.J. public education 2014: An integral part of student life

Arts education advocates always seem to live in fear that, especially in times of tight budgets, the first areas slashed will be anything arts-related. The past several years have been difficult ones for school budgets. The Christie administration and the state Legislature, in an attempt to tamp down property tax increases, have allowed school districts little wiggle room, even with local voters’ approval.

When enhancements are permitted by the bureaucrats, they tend toward more “practical” subjects. For example, students now must complete a financial literacy course to graduate — hardly objectionable, but it still sucks up money from the budget. And when schools talk about a curriculum “crisis,” it usually leans toward lack of preparation in technology and science, not singing and drawing.

Even though the visual and performing arts are part of the state’s core curriculum, how do you show their importance in black and white? New Jersey attempted to do just that in its most recent School Performance Report. The survey measured participation in arts classes based on data from schools showing what courses they offer and how many students were taking them. New Jersey is the first state in the nation to do this.

“Research shows a strong connection between arts education and success in college and career,” said then-Education Commissioner Chris Cerf when the report was released in January.

“Arts education is crucial in unleashing the creativity and innovation that are needed to succeed in today’s workforce,” said Cerf, who left the education department in February. Read more>>

New Jersey Shines a Light on Arts Education

New Jersey state government agency offered some outstanding news last week. Surprised? Don’t be.  The New Jersey Department of Education released the 2013 School Performance Reports and for the very first time in the nation arts measures were included.  The reports are designed to inform parents, educators and students how a school is preparing for the future and are chock full of data on academic achievement and college and career readiness.

The New Jersey Arts Education Partnership (NJAEP) has guided policy development toward inclusion of arts measures over many years.  The NJAEP is a co sponsored project of the NJ State Council on the Arts and the ArtPride NJ Foundation, with additional support from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the NJ Dept. Of Education, the Prudential Foundation, and Quadrant Research. Yes, it takes a lot more than a village to put New Jersey in the vanguard of arts education!

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