Category Archives: News

2016 School Board Candidate Survey Results


The New Jersey Arts Education Partnership recognizes that understanding candidates’ views on arts education is important to voters. A healthy arts education ecosystem depends on many factors, and support of arts education by school board members represents a critical part of the ecosystem. Their support contributes to the thriving programs, student performances and memorable arts events that shape our communities.

As part of the ArtsEdNow campaign, the New Jersey Arts Education Partnership conducted the 2016 New Jersey School Board Candidate Survey on Arts Education. All 1,900+ candidates for School Board across New Jersey were contacted and invited to share their views about arts education with the voters in their district. Many candidates provided detailed responses to the questions. Some of the candidates vividly described their own experiences with the arts.The survey was conducted as a public service, to help voters make informed decisions.


With the November election just around the corner, please consider passing along this information to others. Help us spread the word!

NEW! Eagleton Poll Shows Statewide Support for Arts Education



NJ arts education advocates plan activities across the state to help kick off multi-year initiative to increase participation in arts education in schools.

The NJ-based Arts Ed Now campaign will officially launch on September 12, 2016 during national Arts Education Week – with advocates featuring the initiative at local and statewide levels all week long.

Spurred by the New Jersey Arts Education Partnership (NJAEP), NJ State Council on the Arts, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, and Americans for the Arts, Arts Ed Now is a multi-year campaign designed to increase participation in arts education in schools across New Jersey.

Studies show that students who participate in arts education do better in school and in life. The longer students are engaged in arts education, the better the outcomes are overall. To heighten the outcomes in New Jersey, Arts Ed Now is focused on increasing participation in every school in the state.

Unfortunately, not all NJ students have the same access to arts education to be able to participate at high levels – or increase existing participation. Despite state education standards, many schools lag behind in offering all four disciplines of dance, music, theater and visual arts.

To achieve better results, the campaign set the following goals by year 2020:
All NJ students will have access to arts education
Increase the number of schools providing more than two art forms
Increase arts participation in elementary and middle schools to 100%
Increase participation in high schools to 60%
Increase school engagement with community resources
Develop a statewide network of local stakeholders

In 1987, Governor Tom Kean signed the law creating the Literacy in the Arts Task Force to examine the state of arts education in New Jersey. “Arts Ed Now is the next generation of advocacy for excellent arts education in our state,” said the former Governor in a statement about the campaign. “I support this campaign and encourage everyone who cares about the future of New Jersey to engage, advocate, and do what you have to do to get results for the benefit of students everywhere.”

Arts Ed Now centers its strategy on helping arts education advocates become good ambassadors to advance the issue forward. Through a statewide network, Arts Ed Now brings people together to share information, stories and best practices for increasing participation in arts education. Local communities provide opportunities to test ideas for advocacy, which then get added to the overall campaign tactics and shared statewide for more powerful results overall.

Additional leadership for the campaign includes: Art Educators of New Jersey, ArtPride NJ, Dance NJ, NJ Department of Education, NJ Music Educators Association., NJ Principals & Supervisors Association/Foundation for Educational Administration., Speech & Theatre Assoc. of NJ, and creative partner Social Impact Studios. Additional partners include the Education Law Center, New Jersey Education Association, New Jersey School Boards Association and the New Jersey PTA. NJTV is a campaign media partner.

“So many people across the state are already doing great work to increase participation in the arts,” said Bob Morrison, Director, NJAEP. “We want to highlight those efforts and build on them to amplify the voices of those who care about arts education as strong local ambassadors with the help of Arts Ed Now.”

One such effort is the pilot community of Newark, NJ. “As a large local community addressing its own arts education needs, the Newark Arts Education Roundtable (NAER) is able to leverage the Arts Ed Now campaign to help ambassadors become even stronger advocates,” said Lauren Meehan, Director, NAER. “We are also able to provide the support as a pilot community to test and refine the statewide campaign tools – in an effort to serve as a model for other communities facing similar challenges as Newark.”

Arts Ed Now will officially launch on September 12, 2016, which coincides with national Arts Education Week. A spotlight focus on activities across the state all week long will provide a springboard for the multi-year initiative.

During lead up to Launch Week, advocates can learn more and download basic campaign materials on the pre-website ArtsEdNow.org. Arts education advocates can also get behind-the-scenes updates now on the Arts Ed Now Facebook Group. Printed materials are also available now for anyone who wants to launch Arts Ed Now in their school, organization or community. Campaign stickers, posters and fact sheets can be requested by e-mailing info@socialimpactstudios.com

The full “campaign central” website will re-launch to kick off Launch Week on September 12th. The full site is designed as an activation hub for everyone involved in promoting the campaign. Visitors to the site can see how their school stacks up in providing arts education and get active right away in the campaign. Practical tools on the site can help ambassadors raise awareness, change policy or create their own local campaign to make change. The site will also provide resources, stories and highlights of ongoing action by local ambassadors.

About the New Jersey Arts Education Partnership
The New Jersey Arts Education Partnership (NJAEP) is the unified voice for arts education in New Jersey. NJAEP was originally founded in 2007 as a cosponsored program of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, with additional support from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, New Jersey Department of Education and Music for All Foundation. Additional support has been provided by the Prudential Foundation, and ArtPride New Jersey Foundation. The mission of the NJAEP 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.

Download photos and infographics on the relaunched ArtsEdNow.org campaign central website starting September 12th.


Taking the lead on ArtsEdNow with Michele Russo

I had an opportunity to speak with Michele Russo, President and CEO of Young Audiences New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania. Recently, it came to our attention that YANJEP included information on ArtsEdNow on the back cover of their resource guide. The NJAEP applauds their initiative and wants to share their campaign engagement model with you.

What does ArtsEdNow mean to you?

The great thing is that ArtsEdNow is a rallying cry for everyone who is passionate about arts education. Although many of us come from different points of view on arts education we all are passionately committed to bringing the arts to children in NJ. The strength of ArtsEdNow is that it unites everyone in that message. I think that it has the potential to unite everyone in terms of our messaging. As the staff person for Young Audiences, knowing that we cannot do it all ourselves, but as a field we can do it all. If I look at all of the people who are allies in this, from the teaching artists to the teachers to the principals to our board, they are all coming from a slightly different point of view but they can all have the single vision of arts education being critical to children. It is a way for us to show our strength as a field – it is not about individual organizations – the focus is on us as a field.

As President of YANJ why is this important?

It is important – we are all out there to support our own organizations, we are doing our programming, we are doing our fundraising, we are talking about the work that we do. But everything we do is in the context of the educational landscape of NJ and the field of arts education. Our ability to paint the picture of the context is something that we do and so I think it is import that we are connecting. ArtsEdNow is a way for the field to shine and for everything to be highlighted as whole and not individual entities. ArtsEdNow gives our field a through line.

Why did you decide to include the information in your materials?

We had the space in our resource guide and we wanted it to be seen. We send our resource guide to thousands of school contacts. We also know that so many of our contacts keep their resource guides for a year – they hold on to them. We thought that putting the ArtsEdNow information on the outside cover would be something that people could reconnect with. So if they see it on their kitchen table or see it in the teachers’ lounge and then they get an email there is a cumulative impact when they see the graphic and the messaging. It is a way to make it really visible.

Have you discussed the campaign with your Board or teaching artists?

We have discussed it with our Board. They are very aware of it. We have built advocacy into our strategic plan as part of how we do our work. It has always been there because we are members of ArtPride and sit on the NJAEP Steering Committee but as a Board we now have it in print that this is part of what we do. With the ArtsEdNow campaign we are devoting the September Board meeting to focusing on how a Board can be stronger advocates for arts education. We chose September because that is when the launch is happening. We also wanted to allow enough time to be thoughtful about how to engage our Board – some have children in schools some are retired some are educators– it is a diverse group of people. We wanted to give them enough time to get engaged and decide what are the key things a board can do to support this work.

Young Audiences is taking the lead on campaign engagement, do you see this as your role?

As one of the biggest arts education organizations in NJ we feel that it is incumbent on us to look at how we can provide leadership on advocacy and if there are models. We hope that out of the September board meeting come models and activities on how Boards can be engaged and share that with our colleagues. We may have a bit more capacity than some smaller organizations to focus on this so we want to take advantage of that. We are also part of a national organization – they are very aware of this campaign – and we do see the potential to share out with the network how their board, staff, teaching artists–the whole organization – how do they get involved in advocacy. We have a huge bonus in NJ as we have ArtPride and the Arts Education Partnership – not every YA affiliate has those organizations. There is something in us that makes us feel responsible and want to share our learning with others in the network.

What do you plan to do the week of Sept 12?

We are putting our plans together right now.

We have our Showcases coming up in September and that is an opportunity to see many parents. We are putting together our plans for what we can do there.

More to follow. More to share.

Thank you Michele. Thank you Young Audiences.





Congratulations to the Recipients of the 36th Annual Governor’s Awards in Arts Education

TRENTON— 6/8/16 – On May 26, 2016 the Patriot’s Theatre at the War Memorial in Trenton was the place to be for inspirational speeches and remarkable performances. The New Jersey Arts Education Partnership (NJAEP) along with the New Jersey Department of Education, Art Pride New Jersey Foundation, the Department of State and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts hosted the 36th Annual Governor’s Awards in Arts Education. This event is recognized nationwide as the states highest honor in arts education. Honoring excellence, promoting awareness of and appreciation for the arts, and by recognizing the creativity, talent and leadership of the award winners.

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick was recognized with the Lifetime Contribution Award and in accepting the award spoke about his admiration for artists and the driving force behind his arts education policies. A self-proclaimed “born again Artist” Bramnick spoke of his wife and children and informed the crowd, if you want a life that’s not boring “marry an artist”. With his speech the event was off to a fabulous start, and the excitement continued with performances by some of the best in the state.

James Morris, Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy started us off with a spellbinding performance on the piano.  Brandon Lyons from Hoboken High School gave a passionate monologue from A Raisin in the Sun. Ricky Persaud, Jr., Shepard High School and Ryan Hernandez, Governor Livingston High School took us on a journey to a jazz club with their toe tapping renditions of “Fly Me to the Moon” and “The Girl from Ipanema”.

Rounding out the evening of amazing performances was a solo modern dance performance by Danielle D’Abundo, Charter Tech High School for the Performing Arts and a timely monologue about a victim of the bombing of Hiroshima that brought tears to our eyes by Kimberly Lee of Summit High School. Maressa Park, of Mary Help of Christians Academy recited her own poem “Butterfly Cage” reminding us that all our lives are intertwined and to set ourselves free.

Concluding this year’s event was a surprising collaborative dance performance by Amanda Edore, Morris County Vocational School District, Candance Eason, The Wardlaw- Hartridge School, Julia Foti and Joy Giuffre, Passaic County Technical Institute, and Lianna Shimoun, Ridge High School who put their individual performances together only moments before the show began and captivated the crowd.

Mark Biedron, President of the State Board of Education, Chair of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts Elizabeth Mattson and Kristin Wenger, Director of the New Jersey Arts Education Partnership had the honor of presenting the awards to over 115 student and leaders in arts education from across the state.

Past recipient of the Distinguished Service Award, Wendy Liscow of the Geraldine R Dodge Foundation stated, “So to all the past, present and FUTURE Arts Education awardees — revel in the limelight.  You represent the creative potential and sustainability of our state. Enjoy this recognition and spread the word about the power of the arts to transform individuals, schools, and communities.”

The Governor’s Awards in Arts Education success comes from the collaboration of the New Jersey Arts Education Partnership, the New Jersey Department of Education, Art Pride New Jersey Foundation, the Department of State and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Additional support is provided by: Art Educators of New Jersey, New Jersey Music Educators Association, Dance NJ, ACT-SO Program New Jersey, Arts Administrators of New Jersey, New Jersey Council of Teachers of English, New Jersey Speech and Debate League, New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC); Writers Theatre of New Jersey; Speech and Theatre Association of New Jersey; VSA New Jersey and Young Audiences New Jersey & Eastern Pennsylvania. The cooperating organizations, award sponsors and individual members of the planning council dedicate their time to make sure that excellence in the arts is rewarded, and work tirelessly throughout the year to plan this special event. The Governor’s Awards in Arts Education ceremony are a major collaborative effort of the arts, education and state government.

Find The Awards Online: www.artsednj.org

FB: www.facebook.com/ArtsEdNJ/

Twitter: @ArtsEDNJ

Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/njaep

Instagram: @ArtsEDNJ

#ArtsEdNow Join the Campaign @ www.artsednow.org

State of the Arts: One Million Public School Students Participate in Arts Education

96% of Elementary School, 89% Middle School and 50% of High School Students are actively participating in the arts.

Interactive School Performance Dashboards for Arts Education

Released on www.artsednj.org

More than one million students participated in public school arts education programs during the most recent school year according to data released by the New Jersey Department of Education and analyzed by the New Jersey Arts Education Partnership. There is an increase in high school arts participation for the third straight year with significant increases in dance and theater enrollment. For the first time, middle school data reveals 89% of all students participating in one or more art form while 94% of elementary students engage in arts learning.

These findings are based on the arts educator assignment data for all schools and the high school arts participation data from the New Jersey School Performance Reports just released by the New Jersey State Department of Education. The findings for the 2014/2015 school year are accessible through the Interactive School Performance Dashboards for Arts Education created by the New Jersey Arts Education Partnership found at http://www.artsednj.org/reports-and-data/interactive-school-performance-dashboard/

According to the new state data, 96% of schools in New Jersey reported offering arts education programs that provide access to more than 1.3 million students (98% of all students) with more than 1 million students participating in one or more arts areas during the school day representing 81% of all students in New Jersey schools. Student participation in high school arts programs increased to just under 50% of all students.

“New Jersey continues to provide innovative policies and pioneering initiatives for arts education by offering detailed information about the status and condition of arts education in every school across our state, commented Robert Morrison, Chair of the New Jersey Arts Education Partnership. “While these numbers are very encouraging there is still more work to be done to bring the arts to every student in our state. We appreciate the New Jersey Department of Education’s support for including the arts in the School Performance Reports, recognizing the important role they play in the educational development of all our students.”

According to Morrison, the findings also reveal that Music and Visual Art are nearly universally available (90% of schools reaching 92% of students for Music and 90% of schools reaching 91% of students for Visual Art). While dance and theater have shown enrollment gains, the lack of access to these art forms at the elementary level creates a significant barrier to participation for students during middle school and high school

Among the other key findings for all schools:

The percentage of schools providing Dance and Theater continues to lag (2.6% and 4.5% respectively) although enrollment gains were seen in both.

83% of schools reported the presence of both Music and Visual Art providing access to 89% of all students (both increases).

Key Findings for High Schools:

A total of 49.9% of high school students were enrolled in one or more arts disciplines during the 2014/2015 school year (representing 204,974 unique students). This represents an 11% growth in arts enrollment since 2013.

Among the arts disciplines, visual art has the greatest percentage of enrollment at 31.1% (128,293 students) followed by music at 17.9% (72,823 students), theater at 3.9% (16,995 students) and dance at 2.3% (8,369 students).

The increases in enrollment were across the board with Theater increasing by 11.3%, Visual Art by 9%, Music by 6.7% and Dance by 3.4%.

There are 7,033 professional arts educators providing arts instruction in New Jersey high schools (including 3,562 in music, 3,086 in Visual Arts, 63 in Theater and 112 in Dance with 162 in Vocational Education. 85% of all arts teachers are assigned to one school.

Two out of every three high schools (66%) reported an increase in arts enrollment.

Key Findings for Middle Schools:

While 99% of middle school students had access to one or more arts offering during the school day – a total of 89.9% of middle school students actually participated in arts courses during the 2014/2015 school year (representing 339,425 unique students).

Among the arts disciplines, visual art has the greatest percentage of enrollment at 71.1% (281,465 students) followed by music at 66% (255,372 students), theater at 3.9% (13,749 students) and dance at 1.6% (7,202 students). Among middle schools, 93% of students had access to both music and visual art.

Key Findings for Elementary Schools:

96% of elementary students had access to one or more arts offering during the school day or more than 520,000 students. Based on the structure of elementary schools the presence of an arts teacher indicates students in the school participate in the arts specialty area of the teacher. Music is accessible to 91% of elementary students in 86% of elementary schools. Visual art is accessible to 88% of elementary students in 85% of elementary schools. Both music and visual art are accessible by 83% of elementary students in 78% of schools.

The picture for dance and theater is very different. Only 1.7% of elementary students have access to dance while less than 1% have access to theater during the school day.

The information does not address the quality of the programs, elementary school participation or the impact of scheduling changes created by recent educational reform initiatives or new statewide assessments. All of these areas require further research.

The Interactive School Performance Dashboards for Arts Education allow citizens to interact with the information, explore student enrollment and levels of participation for each of the four arts disciplines (Dance, Music, Theater and Visual Arts) for all middle and high schools as well as the presence of arts programs for every school. The data may be viewed by school, district, county or state totals. Schools and communities will also be able to compare their results to the averages for the entire state.

The call for including arts education as part of annual school reporting dates back to 2007 when the New Jersey Arts Education Partnership released the first-of-its-kind New Jersey Arts Education Census Report, Within Our Power. Among the report’s many recommendations was that schools should “publicly report on an annual basis information regarding access to, level of participation in visual and performing arts education, and that this information be included as part of a state accountability system.”

New Jersey has long had some of the strongest requirements for arts education in the nation. Since 1996, the visual and performing arts (Dance, Music, Theater and Visual Arts) have been a part of the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards and are part of the state’s graduation requirements. Additionally, New Jersey was the first state to conduct a mandated study to document access, participation and quality of arts education.

In support of these requirements, research regarding the educational benefits of the arts for all New Jersey students (not just the gifted and talented) is compelling. Various studies have identified links between involvement in the visual and performing arts and improved attendance, school engagement, increased academic performance, decreased drop out and discipline rates and higher levels of college attendance — areas of improvement vital to student success. Just as important, the arts develop important life skills including problem solving, critical thinking, creativity and collaboration.

A recent study found New Jersey high schools with more arts education have a greater percentage of students who were highly proficient in language arts on the High School Proficiency Assessment test. High schools with more arts education have a higher percentage of students planning to enroll in a four-year college.

For more information about the School Performance Reports and information regarding arts education visit http://www.artsednj.org



Visual and Performing Arts Grade Weighting Bill Wins Committee Approval

New Jersey Legislature Passes Arts Grade Weighting Bill

On January 11, 2016, the New Jersey Legislature passed our Arts Education Grade Weighting Bill A311 in a unanimous vote in both the Assembly and the Senate. The bill now goes to Governor Christie for signature. We do not know at this point if he will sign the bill. We are cautiously optimistic.

The bill’s passage is the culmination of nearly nine years of work. The issue of unequal grade weighting was first illuminated in the 2007 Census report Within Our Power. The report showed more than 20% of high schools reported unequal grade weighting of arts courses. The arbitrary and unequal grade weighting between similar courses creates an artificial barrier to students who have a desire to participate in the arts. When a school district applies unequal weighting for equal courses students are forced to choose between their passion and their grade point average and class rank. This is not only unfair… but it flies in the face of our own educational expectations. We are now at the final step of removing this barrier once and for all.

The text of the bill is as follows:


AN ACT concerning the calculation of pupil grade point averages and supplementing chapter 35 of Title 18A of the New Jersey Statutes.

BE IT ENACTED by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

1. a. A school district shall weight courses in the visual and performing arts equally with other courses of the same level of academic rigor and worth the same number of credits in calculating a pupil’s grade point average.

1. As used in this section, “academic rigor” means a course’s classification as a general education course, an honors course, or an advanced placement course.

This act shall take effect immediately and shall first apply to the first full school year following the date of enactment.

We are grateful to all our legislative partners. Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick deserves a special thank you. His family was personally impacted by unequal grade weighting when his daughter was in high school. Leader Bramnick has been a strong ally for this issue and worked to assemble bi-partisan support for the bill.

Significant credit belongs to the bill’s legislative sponsors. They include:


Assembly Sponsors

Jon M. Bramnick – Primary Sponsor

Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr. – Primary Sponsor

Bonnie Watson Coleman – Primary Sponsor

Mila M. Jasey – Co-Sponsor

Craig J. Coughlin – Co-Sponsor


Senate Sponsors

Teresa Ruiz – Primary Sponsor

Thomas H. Kean, Jr. – Primary Sponsor


We will provide additional updates once we know the Governor’s intention for the bill.

Testimony Before the Assembly Education Committee Assembly Bill #A311- Grade Weighting of Arts Education Courses

House of Representatives Passes ESEA Reauthorization. On to the Senate!

We’re pleased to let you know that today the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the conference agreement to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act by a final vote of 359 – 64. The bill has many positive arts education provisions including the retention of arts and music as part of a “Well-Rounded Education.” Now the process will move to the Senate where debate is expected to take place on Monday, December 7th with a vote following quickly.

To help ensure a successful outcome, we ask that you reach out now to your U.S. Senators and urge them to vote for the conference agreement. You can do this by sending an email from HERE

Once the Senate takes action, if they approve the bill it would be sent to President Obama who is expected to sign it. This will bring to an end the No Child Left Behind era.

The 2016 NJ Visual & Performing Arts Ed Survey to Launch 2/1

2016 New Jersey Visual and Performing Arts Education Survey

Set for February 1st Launch

Repeat of Ground-Breaking Project to Measure State-Wide Arts Education

Now more than ever it is critical we understand the status and condition of arts education in our schools. To help us develop this understanding the New Jersey Visual and Performing Arts Education Survey (NJVPAS) is being conducted by the New Jersey State Department of Education. The survey is scheduled for launch Monday, January 18, 2016. This is a statewide, school level survey of the visual and performing arts for the more than 2,300 public schools in our state. Participation in the survey is required for all schools.

The survey instrument for state-wide mandated Visual and Performing Education Survey been built, taken out for a test drive, tweaked, vetted, adjusted, tweaked again, and is now ready for prime time.

The New Jersey Visual and Performing Arts Survey is a statewide school-by-school mandatory survey for the visual and performing arts being conducted by the New Jersey Department of Education from January 18, 2016 through February 22, 2016

The Survey is part of the 2016 New Jersey Arts Education Census Project (NJAECP) a partnership of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the New Jersey Department of Education, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the New Jersey Arts Education Partnership, ArtPride New Jersey and Quadrant Research. The New Jersey Arts Education Census Project is a follow up to the 2005/2006 and the 2011/2012 surveys and will create a 360-degree view of arts education in New Jersey schools as well as measure any changes over the past five and ten year periods.

The survey will quantify student enrollment in arts education programs for each school, establish spending patterns over time for arts education, providing a basis for analyses of growth and decline of enrollment relative to other school programs. In addition, economic, demographic, census, and school report card data will be linked together to provide context regarding additional factors that impact access to arts education in a community. The final results will be housed in an interactive website housed at the New Jersey Arts Education Partnership.

We will be working with the leadership of the professional associations to communicate with the arts educators on the ways they may help with this landmark effort. If you are an arts educator, watch your email boxes for specific information on what you can do to help your principals gather and prepare your schools information.

The New Jersey Visual and Performing Arts Survey will be posted on December 15, 2015 for download.

If you have any questions please call Bob Morrison (908-542-9396 or email at: bob@artsedresearch.org) or Dale Schmid (609-984-6308 or email at: dale.schmid@doe.state.nj.us)



NJASA Partnership Corner: ArtsEdNow – NJAEP Leads the Way

ON TARGET 2015 – Bob Morrison, Chairman of New Jersey Arts Education Partnership featured in NJASA’s Partnership Corner

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