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New Jersey is first state in the country to require arts education

Posted on: Feb 1, 2014

New Jersey. The words conjure up mental images of diners, boardwalks, and the glitz n’ glamour of Atlantic City. The state is also a center for innovation, as it once housed the basement laboratory where Thomas Edison tinkered with many of his inventions.

Now, the state is known for being an innovator once again. Becoming a leader in arts education can be added to the list of New Jersey’s accolades.

In a bold new step, New Jersey is taking the lead by becoming the first state in the country to require arts education as part of its annual School Performance Reports.

True grit

These new requirements for the annual reports signify and reaffirm New Jersey’s recognition of the value of the arts. Primarily, the role of the arts in promoting creativity and innovation – great attributes for the future leaders of tomorrow. According to Chris Daggett, President and CEO of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, "These reports recognize the important role of arts education to the long-term cultural and economic vitality of our state. Students who participate in the arts will become more skilled in critical thinking, problem solving and other necessary skills for jobs in the 21st century, as they also become our future artists, audience members and arts advocates."

In essence, artistic attributes tend to bear fruit in the workplace. Fostering such out-of-the-box innovation in America’s youth is the first step in ensuring the lives of future generations and the productivity of the American workforce. Historically, the benefits of arts education include markedly increased performance in problem solving, critical thinking, creativity and collaboration.

The path traveled

New Jersey has a longstanding history for being a proponent of the arts and arts education. In 1978, the state passed the Arts Inclusion Act, leading to the commission and installation of hundreds of artworks in state financed construction projects. In 1996, New Jersey added arts curriculum to the state’s graduation requirements through the New Jersey Core Curricular Content Standards. Furthermore, the state possesses an extensive network of arts funds, cultural tourism, and performing arts initiatives designed to support its cultural industry.  Notably, New Jersey took the groundbreaking initiative to mandate a study to document access, participation in, and ensure the quality of arts education.

Blazing the trail

Always a pioneer in the realm of arts education advocacy, New Jersey continues to blaze the trail for other states to follow. With its latest accomplishment added as a notch to its belt, here’s to another decade of forward-thinking innovation.  

 (More information on the New Jersey’s School Performance reports and the New Jersey education system can be found at http://www.artsednj.org/)