STATEMENT BY EDUCATION SECRETARY MARGARET SPELLINGS ON 2007 ARTS ADVOCACY DAY U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings today made the following statement on the celebration of 2007 Arts Advocacy Day: I am pleased to join the many artists, administrators, arts educators, parents, and others in celebrating 2007 Arts Advocacy Day. The No Child Left Behind Act recognizes the important role that arts have in our schools for a well-rounded education. The arts are a unique tool to stimulate and enrich learning. Not only do the arts encourage our children’s imagination and creativity, but they can also teach lessons of history, math, and other subjects in a more memorable and profound way. The arts also, as President George W. Bush has said, “…allow us to explore new worlds and to view life from another perspective,” a critically important skill for today’s global economy. Our education system is improving because of the concerns and involvement of so many who advocate for the arts. Leaders in states and local communities can and should ensure that the arts remain part of every student’s education.What does this mean? Stay tuned to this blog for further commentary on what this really means!
Don't betray arts groups Thursday, March 08, 2007, Newark Star-Ledger Once a deal was a deal -- even in Trenton. Apparently, not anymore. It's a lesson members of the state's cultural community are learning, and it's costing them plenty. Under Gov. Jon Corzine's proposed budget, the state Council on the Arts, the Historical Commission and the Cultural Trust get a $2.3 million increase from last year, bringing the total appropriation to $25.6 million. Not bad except it's short of what the groups were promised or even what a reasonable reading of the law setting up dedicated funding would produce. Four years ago, Gov. James McGreevey, facing a tight budget, eliminated all funding for the arts and cultural organizations. The resulting uproar led to a compromise that eventually restored much of the money. The groups then agreed to work for passage of a 5 percent tax on hotel and motel room rates, with a portion of the revenue dedicated to the arts. The law says that in the first year, the arts and historical groups would get $16 million and be guaranteed more in following years, with $27.24 million being the minimum. It's all pretty clear until you read down three more paragraphs. Sophisticated bill writers slipped in a provision that says the minimum is what the 2004 budget allocated -- just $16 million. So the law has two definitions of the minimum. By the second standard, Corzine is actually being generous. The arts groups argue they're being shortchanged $1.64 million, and they're right. Using two competing sections of the law to create confusion and, in the end, justify reneging on a promise isn't the way to conduct business. Neither is letting the groups campaign for the hotel tax and then not giving them what they expected. The arts groups can be faulted for being too trusting -- some might even call it naive. Imagine, they actually believed politicians would honor their promises. The legislators need to show that trust was not misplaced.I can assure you that ArtPRIDE New Jersey (our statewide arts advocacy organization - of which I am a board member) and the other members of the arts community are not naive. We are optimists and hold out hope that our Governor and the members of our legislature will do the right thing. If any of our elected leaders are unsure of their position... all I can say is remember the spring of 2003, it's an election year, and the field has a great memory.