This is National Arts Education Week!
What better time to celebrate the arts in our schools than when “back to school night” happens all over the state?
This week marks the fifth annual National Arts Education Week, and it’s no secret that the arts are critical to a successful school life for children from Pre K through Grade 12 and well beyond to post secondary education.
There are many studies and stats that link the arts to better attendance (consider the recent report on absenteeism in NJ schools), higher SAT scores, improved critical thinking skills, and overall creating a better environment for learning.
How can you celebrate arts in education and call attention to this quality of life issue?
Here are five easy ways to remind community leaders (and the public) that the arts make our places of learning both lively and productive:
- Know where your school district stands on arts education – the NJ Arts Education Partnership is your go-to resource for information on arts education in all New Jersey schools through their Interactive School Performance Dashboard. Here you can learn about the number of students enrolled in music, dance, theater and visual arts, learn what subjects may be missing, find out what the student/teacher ratio is for each subject, and compare standings to that of other schools. Read the NJAEP’s advocacy plan to assure that New Jersey state education policy continues to mandate arts education as an essential part of every child’s education.
- Attend a local board of education meeting. Discover what is important to your board of education and where the arts fall on their list of priorities. Request time for public comment and feature the work of a student, teacher, or teaching artist who makes a difference at school through their work in the arts. The Elizabeth NJ Board of Education regularly features performances by students and this video features the music faculty of Elizabeth Public Schools performing at a recent board meeting. Here are 15 questions you can present to school leaders about arts education at a board meeting.
- Use social media to shed a spotlight on art in your schools. Use #ArtsEdWeek, or once this week is over, continue to showcase awesome artwork or a superhero art teacher with #EncourageCreativity and #TeachtheArts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
- Keep learning. There are many resources out there to help you better understand your role inthe arts education ecosystem, current trends in the field and how to best take action. The NJ Arts Education Partnership lists a host of critical documents to back up your actions, and Americans for the Arts brand new Arts Education Navigator is another great place to gather information, ideas and confidence as make your case for support.
- Finally, encourage students who demonstrate an interest in the arts. Just as in athletics, a little encouragement goes a long way for students who find that the arts offer a way to express themselves, socialize, let off steam, and build self esteem. ArtPride New Jersey is working with a remarkable and energetic young arts advocate who wants to make sure teachers have adequate supplies in their art rooms. Watch for our blog posts this week to learn more about how you can support Priya’s arts advocacy mission through the Circle of Art.
Ann Marie Miller is the Director of Advocacy and Public Policy at ArtPride New Jersey and a regular contributor to the Dodge Blog. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here to visit ArtPride’s website.