Governor Phil Murphy

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Governor Murphy and Arts Ed NJ Announce Universal Access to Arts Education in Public Schools


All Public Schools in New Jersey Now Provide Access to Arts Education Classes - A Historic Milestone


PARAMUS – Governor Phil Murphy and Arts Ed NJ Founder and Director Bob Morrison today announced that New Jersey has reached the benchmark of offering universal arts education access in all New Jersey public schools, with over one million students in the state actively participating in some form of arts education. Universal access to arts education means that all New Jersey students have the opportunity to take classes in visual and performing arts (Dance, Music Theatre or Visual Art).

“I am grateful that my own education included exposure to the arts, and I know that I would not be where I am today without the skills theater taught me,” said Governor Murphy. “I am proud to announce that all New Jersey public schools are now offering arts education. The future of New Jersey is bright, and today’s announcement is a critical step in ensuring that our children reach their full potential.”

“Research shows a compelling connection between the arts and achievement in school, and even after graduation,” said Commissioner of Education Dr. Lamont O. Repollet, noting that studies have found students involved in the arts are more likely to score higher in language arts literacy and are more likely to enroll in college. “New Jersey’s focus on arts education is designed not only to provide students with an appreciation of the arts, but it helps unleash their creativity and innovation. Those are tools that can help them achieve greater success throughout life.”

“This is indeed an historic milestone for arts education, not only in New Jersey but for our nation. It is one thing to say we want arts education for every student. It is another thing to take actions to make sure that every child has access to the many benefits an education in the arts provides,” said Robert Morrison, Director of Arts Ed NJ. “Goal number 1 of the ARTS ED NOW campaign was to reach universal access. We are now able to turn our attention to the quality of experience and diversity of offerings for our students.”

Governor Murphy made the announcement in conjunction with Arts Ed NJ, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting arts education in New Jersey. Today, Arts Ed NJ released the 2019 New Jersey Arts Education Annual Summary Report, which reviewed data from the New Jersey State Department of Education for the 2017-2018 school year and found that New Jersey has achieved universal arts access for public schools. The report also found that, over the last decade, there has been a 25 percent increase in student art participation in New Jersey, meaning that an additional 250,000 students participate in the arts compared to a decade ago.

Elected officials also applauded the announcement.

“Arts education broadens students' imaginations and introduces them to culturally significant aspects of life that help their overall development,” said Senator Lagana. “Students can express themselves in their music and art classes in ways that they can’t in their main education classes. I fully support the push to expand arts education into all schools in New Jersey while maintaining our high standards in other areas."

“Today is a great day for all of our young students who are aspiring painters, poets, musicians, thespians and even master chefs,” said Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle. “Universal access to arts education in our schools will mean so much to so many. The arts engage a child’s imagination and creativity and help with their development. With this landmark announcement, we can all rest assured that New Jersey students will be enriched and well-prepared as they strive to become our next generation of leaders.”   

“Research has found that access to the arts teaches critical thinking, teamwork, and other valuable life skills that students can use throughout their lives, regardless of whether or not they build careers in artistic fields,” said Paramus Mayor Rich LaBarbiera. “Here in Paramus, I am proud to say that our students have access to visual arts, drama, and culinary classes. Paramus has long been a leader in this field and I am excited that New Jersey is providing these opportunities to children all across our state.”

The announcement took place at Paramus High School, which was recognized in 2013 as a Model School in the Arts for the state of New Jersey during National Arts in Education Week, which began on Monday.