As educational leaders in our state, and with a clear understanding of the complex landscape of public education today, we want to combine to address the importance of a high-quality arts education for every child.
The arts are an important part of every child’s education because they emphasize creativity, collaboration, communication and critical thinking. These are powerful tools for learning and are the very skills that employers value today.
In fact, a survey of 1,500 CEOs cited creativity as the most crucial component for success in the 21st century. Nowhere is this truer than in California where one in 10 jobs is part of the creative industries, which generate $237.5 billion in direct and indirect revenue while employing 1.4 million workers. The arts are a powerful economic engine in our state.
High-quality arts instruction benefits more than just the economy. Students in the arts are three times less likely to drop out of school than other students. Arts involvement has been linked to increased academic performance, higher standardized test scores and more community service. Participating in the arts also teaches teamwork, problem solving, perseverance, a strong work ethic, punctuality, confidence and the reality of deadlines.
While we have many examples of how the arts are alive and well throughout the region, we also know that there is more to be done.
We are committed to ensuring every student has access to quality arts instruction because we know, first-hand, the positive effects and enjoyment that result when students engage in these important disciplines.
We want to encourage our communities to embrace existing arts programs and to nurture new endeavors for underserved students. Parents can be strong advocates for the arts through volunteering time and talents, supporting educational leaders and helping fund fledgling arts programs. Business partners are needed who will help connect the arts with career technical education and the community as a whole. A coalition of business and industry leaders can help create sustainability for arts education that will benefit our communities for years to come.
To further this effort, we have created the website teacharts.org, which is supported by the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation. This free resource, designed to equip and inspire, is a growing community sharing best practices and strategic planning. We are committed to supporting this exciting new venture and encourage teachers and parents to join us online to make connections and benefit from the many exemplary lesson plans, research and available trainings.
The arts enrich individual lives and contribute to the welfare of society.
It’s time to recognize the value of the arts and the powerful, life-long skills these disciplines instill in our young people. We ask you to take action. Talk to school leaders. Encourage them to establish or expand high-quality arts programs. Invest your time by volunteering in an arts classroom. Assist schools in establishing a culture of high expectations and then contribute to supply the necessary equipment, materials and qualified instructors.
Join us in celebrating the tremendous value of arts education and becoming vocal advocates so that every child will benefit from high-quality arts instruction.
The county school district superintendents of Region VII co-authored this op-ed. They are: Tim Bowers, Kings County; Steven E. Gomes, Ph.D., Merced County; Robin Hopper, Mariposa County; Cecilia Massetti, Ph.D., Madera County; Jim Vidak, Tulare County; Jim Yovino, Fresno County.