Warren, NJ (May 27, 2020)—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 Mohave 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:

  1. September Ready Taskforce was appointed in early may made of more than 100 arts educators and administrators to develop action plans and recommendations for school administrators.
  2. A personalized Letter to Superintendents was delivered to every superintendent in the state this week.
  3. Arts Ed NJ joined and international coalition to help funding the land mark Covid19 Study Aerosol Generation from Musical and Theatrical Performers and Risk of Infectious Disease Transmission at the University of Colorado and the University of Maryland led by the National Federation of High School Associations (NFHS)
  4. Arts Ed NJ will host the New Jersey Arts Ed Summit 2020 on June 16-18
  5. Distance Learning Resources for Arts Educators were developed to assist arts educators in the transition to online teaching and learning
  6. The intersection between arts education and Social and Emotional learning is now documented in the SEL and Arts Education Framework to be released on June 3.
  7. New Student Learning Standards in the Visual and Performing Arts will be release on June 3 with the inclusion of the SEL Arts Education Framework.
  8. A Statement of Principles signed by all education associations in New Jersey outlines the states “vision’ for arts education
  9. High quality professional learning featuring ways in which to successfully integrate SEL into arts learning practices.
  10. A new Arts Ed Now campaign to focus on the important role of arts education for New Jersey students… now more than ever to be released on June 18th.

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. In any decision about how school districts will operate in the next and future school years, arts education will be essential in providing all students equitable educational opportunities that also continue to prepare them for an ever-changing world.

Signing organizations as of May 26, 2020.