SOM Arts Community To Supt. Ramos: Elevate Arts Education in Our Schools

by The Village Green
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A group of 72 Maplewood and South Orange residents who are active members of the arts community have presented a letter to Supt. Dr. John Ramos to ask for “a place at the table” to discuss the importance of arts education in the district.

“As the district moves forward with the creation of a new strategic plan, we believe whole-heartedly that the arts will add a valuable voice to this forthcoming dialogue…The arts are not taken for granted here, nor are they a peripheral part of our existence,” reads the letter to Ramos.

An abridged version was posted as a petition on which has so far garnered more than 180 signatures.

See the full letter attached here as a PDF:

Download (PDF, 102KB)

The letter grew out of the arts education session at the district’s Education Summit in November, said Marcy Thompson, who drafted it. “There were a lot of great points raised about how to elevate arts education in the district,” said Thompson. The letter was edited by Tricia Tunstall and former arts supervisor for SOMSD, Tony Mazzocchi.

The three presented it on January 4 to Dr. Ramos, who “received it graciously,” said Thompson.

Those 72 signees are now considered “arts ambassadors” working as a core group of people to help spread the word and to assist the district as it moves ahead in its strategic planning process. In addition, SOPAC is also working to spread the word about the petition, said Thompson.

Read more here:

Like you, we believe our children’s education should reflect this basic premise – we have made the arts part of the fabric of our community because of the tremendous benefits they impart. But access to these opportunities is uneven at best. And too many students in the district receive their only arts instruction on a very limited basis within the school curriculum. For too long, sustained arts instruction has been deemed “extra-curricular,” making it off limits to the students who might benefit from it most.

We believe that the arts should play an integral role in every child’s education. With meaningful experiences in music, theatre, art, and dance, children’s intellectual lives are deepened, their creative impulses are given shape, and their futures are forever improved.

…a course correction is due. As in other states, New Jersey has directed valuable resources to implementing the Common Core standards in Language Arts and Math, and PARCC testing. One of the unintended consequences of these efforts has resulted in meaningful time away from arts education for thousands of students in our district.

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