All but 3 percent of New Jersey public K-12 students have access to arts education. But the state’s arts advocates say even one student without access is too many.
“You might say, ‘So? That’s only around 113 schools in New Jersey that don’t offer classes in the arts. What does it matter?’ If you’re a student in that school it matters a heck of a lot,” says Bob Morrison, director of the New Jersey Arts Education Partnership (NJAEP), a non-profit consortium designed to promote the arts in education.
But really, what does it matter? Isn’t it more important to prioritize reading and STEM education and test scores over flute lessons and painting in times of tight budgets and accountability? No, says Morrison, and here’s why: Every study ever conducted on the subject shows that students who take arts classes benefit in ways that include higher academic achievement and greater civic participation, he says, and his organization is spearheading a three-year campaign to spread the word.