I was recently asked to testify before the New Jersey Assembly Tourism and the Arts Committee about arts education and where we stand in New Jersey. These are my remarks:
I am honored to testify before you today and pleased to see my own state representative, Assemblywoman Munoz is a part of this committee.
My name is Robert Morrison. I am the founder of Quadrant Arts Education Research and serve as the Governance Chair of the New Jersey Arts Education Partnership.
Most recently I was honored to have served as a member of Governor Christie's Transition team overseeing a review of the Department of State led by our Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno.
Arts education... indeed education in NJ is at a crossroads
Policy makers often espouse the desire to have arts education for all students.
In New Jersey... this is simply not the case.
In the 2005/2006 school year, New Jersey completed the first-in-the nation statewide census of arts education. The report showed that while there had been 20 years of important progress we were still a long way from where we wanted to be... the arts for every child.
The good news is that most of our schools offer courses in music and visual arts. And the limited funding provided by the New Jersey State Council for the Arts helps support the educational programs of arts organizations that reach 89% of our public schools.
The bad news? There are 77,000 students attend school everyday without ANY access to the arts. And while the state has some of the most forward looking requirements in the arts... the fact that there is little or no accountability to measure if schools are actually meeting these requirements means administrators feel free to ignore them. In fact only 3% of our elementary schools are offering the courses required by the state to ensure children may meet the learning expectations.
This is cause for concern... not only for New Jersey... but also for our nation.
And here is why: