State group urges more commitment to arts education

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

Arts education in Pennsylvania is declining and policymakers at all levels need to take action to restructure priorities and resources to make rich arts experiences accessible to all students, according to a new report.

Among other things, the report, from the Arts and Education Initiative of the Education Policy and Leadership Center, recommends that the State Board of Education revise its standards to require requiring an arts credit for high school graduation.

Arts education should be "high-quality, comprehensive, sequential, standards-based" and all students should have exposure to visual arts, music, dance and theatre. It also maintains that the General Assembly needs to promote regional arts collaborations.

Throughout, the report stresses that arts education is not a frill, but essential to producing well-rounded, well-prepared students. While some of the recommendations are expensive, others can be done at through a change in policy, it says.

Part of the problem in the decline of access to arts education is that the high-stakes accountability system ushered in by No Child Left Behind ignores arts education.

The arts are necessary "to spark our imaginations, increase our creativity, and provide us with new and expanded ways of seeing and understanding the changing world around us," the report said.

Dennis Creedon, the School District’s executive director of academic enrichment and support who previously was Philadelphia’s director of arts education, was among those on the study group that produced the report.