Stand up for the arts in school

As students begin their school years and we approach the fall, 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 to 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. We encourage all supporters of arts, culture, and education – as well as our elected officials and education leaders – to join with us in celebration.

Recently, the new Every Student Succeeds Act was signed into law which replaced No Child Left Behind. This new bill fully supports the arts as part of every student’s “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.

However, so often we see gaps in access to arts education in communities across our state and the country. 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 school districts 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 providing more opportunities for engagement? It’s up to us -the arts education community – to take a stand and lead.

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Jayson Gerth resides in Ankeny.