Letter for Sept. 17, 2016

• Arts education gives students a reason to celebrate

Arts education gives students a reason to celebrate

As students begin their school years and we approach the fall in our community, it is important for us to remember the impact of education in our homes, schools and communities. For decades, research has shown that when students participate in the arts as a part of their education, they go on succeed in school, work and life.

Designated by Congress in 2010, the week beginning with the second Sunday in September is National Arts in Education Week: a national celebration of the transformative power of the arts in education. We are celebrating here in (Town), and would encourage all supporters of arts, culture, and education to join with us – as well as our elected officials and education leaders.

Recently, in Washington, D.C., the new Every Student Succeeds Act was signed into law replacing no Child Left Behind. This new bill fully supports the arts as part of every students’ “well-rounded” education. It provides the flexibility for students to learn creatively and for local districts and states to create schools that embrace the arts. What we know is simple: students attend school more often when they have access to the arts, parents and families engage with the schools when schools embrace the arts, dropout rates decrease, grades increase — and the halls are filled with artwork, songs, drama and dancing.

And, I’m not alone in this belief. According to a recent public opinion poll, released in March, 9 out of 10 Americans believe that the arts are essential to a student’s well rounded education.

However, so often we see that access is not there in communities across our state and the country. In that same public opinion poll, 67 percent of Americans believed that there was not sufficient access to the arts for their students to reap the benefits. Additionally, there is study after study that indicate the opportunity gap in arts education. specifically along racial and socio-economic lines. We must stand together to fight for equity in access and delivery of arts education to the young people in our community our state, and the nation.

As we celebrate National Arts in Education Week, we should take pause to cheer for our accomplishments, but we should also remember the work we have to do. How can our district help provide equitable opportunities for all of our young people? How can we use the new law to create arts-rich schools? How can we support parents, families and the community in provide more opportunities for engagement? It’s up to us — the arts education community — to take a stand and lead.

Renee Janton

Hanalei

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