Arts / Education
Hugo. In New Jersey the subject of public education in recent years has been concentrated on a thorough and efficient system and it back to basics movement with emphasis on the three Rs. But since last November a committee appointed by education commissioner Fred Burke has been working on a plan to improve the teaching of the arts in public schools. That plan and its importance is the subject of this special report. This is a public affairs special report The New Jersey Public Television. Discussing the state of the arch in New Jersey Our Susan Brainard project director for the new arts plan. Fred BOURKE The New Jersey commissioner of education Linda elder vice president of the New Jersey School Boards Association. And Cliff Crocker director of the Center for the Arts at records University. Moderators and the reverend.
Dr. Brainard May we better begin by a definition what do we mean by the arts in education I can't imagine that it would have taken two years to study what we always had the annual poster contest as we've gone beyond that right. No we've gone way beyond that Loretta where including visual arts and music and dance and drama in our definition of the arts. And our concept of arts in education means that children from kindergarten through the 12th grade. Get. Opportunities to be involved in all of those thoughts in a tremendous variety of ways. The commission Dr. Burke. What was the need. Well I certainly believe that return to basics has certain merits that is a legitimate concern with the fact that. Many are children not reading or computing as well as they are. But certainly has come home to me loudly and clearly recently watching for example a holocaust that has more to life than being
able to read and compute in that society is going to have the virtues that are required to live and to make a living worthwhile. And certainly they must know their society their culture and the arts is certainly the best way to do that. How about the people that foot the bill. I'm going to school right around. The school board. The. Opinion of. Local school districts on this is now. I think Loretta there is a lot of concern. That we maintain the programs that we have. And that we provide opportunities for all youngsters. And with budget caps and with. Limitations on spending at the local district level. There is a real fear that we will lose some of the really special things that are happening in education. And. I think from the school board's perspective. To educate a child we have to educate the total child. And to turn a youngster on to learning may mean giving him or her the opportunity to dance. Or to do art
or pottery or a variety of things that have nothing to do with reading or writing specifically but could in the long run make them enthusiastic about that kind of learning. I think school boards are really concerned that we find a way to keep kids involved and interested in learning. Do you think that the Caps will be a significant factor which will. Make it difficult for school boards around the state that we have done and we will be able to share with school districts how they can provide arts education without spending a lot of money by replicating existing programs that do work. And I think we really need the cat or volatile issue I want Mr. cracker to get in. What if effective is yes I believe that of course I take a different perspective than the fact that I'm with record University and the colleges are concerned what can we do to assist and the plans for this major program. Because as you know
the teachers are trying to teach music they're trying to teach art dance and theatre Hollywood. Can we at the university level the college level assist in this total program. We have to reshuffle and rethink our whole position. Because this is something that it's entirely new with the colleges. It will be entirely new with the school boards. It's entirely new with the State Board of Education so that we have to shuffle between one and the other and planning and replanning and retraining of our teachers. At the college level. Commissioner Burgess strong question going there and I don't think we got a straight answer and that is you've only got so you can't have guns and butter is what I'm saying. You've got so much of the pie you're going to be teaching back to basics and now you want to improve the arts program. What's going to suffer. I don't care who answers that. I don't think anything have to suffer. I think that what we need to do is be more creative with our solutions. There are ways that we can teach basic skills through the arts.
And I think that's what we're all about. You know I have to I have to support that. Actually. I grew up in the trades and I can go into look ational school and I can find for example people that are teaching sheet metal or or. Body repair. And they have youngsters who are utterly creative artistically. And who are not being would be taught that what they're doing is artistic. But what the materials are using the way they're using them can be artistically defined. And I think that the real challenge because the resources are limited let's face it they're not going to be available we're not going to have additional resources to do all the things we want to do. And the real challenge is how can we actually utilize existing resources more budget to really in their fashion actually to bring into being and give expression to the sort of things that the draft. Plan which the task force which has worked on this so hard has suggested we can do it that's the challenge. Are you going to have trouble convincing the people who are adamant now that we've got to get back to basics
they need what we might call the frills or the icing on the cake type of. Is that how you perceive it. Yes there have been many studies and there are number of model programs nationally that show first of all that the arts can enhance money in the basic skills the. Reading in writing because we think of the arts as a basic skills too. And. Secondly directly. Learning through the arts learning reading and math through the arts. And then. That the arts improve motivation for these kinds of studies. We can be very creative with a variety of subject matters as Dr. Burke was saying we can use our community arts resources a great deal better than we have in the past and that's when one of the things this plan is about. Using community arts resources. It was ration I had lunch today with a county superintendent Cape May I was in Cape May County
earlier today. And we're talking about this subject. And they had a youngster that he knew in a school in Cape May County that could not speak. It was not adorable. I could not speak. And I discovered though that this youngster had certain artistic skills in drawing. And painting. And they developed that. And the youngster was drawing fantastic. Murals on paper on the walls. And a process of doing that the young should learn to speak in the when when are our state people came in a plug for the state of education for the first time in history. We've had people in every school in New Jersey this year from the state. Monitoring. And these monitors reported that this youngster spoke to them and the school people said Did he speak to you of course he spoke to. Us. Well you should be surprised he spoke to you because six months or seven months ago the youngster could not speak. And should not speak because he draws a huge murals. Somebody developed. Discovered that the way this child could
express himself. Was was painting these murals. As a consequence his verbal capability evolve which had been dormant for many here like to express two things along that same line. If we were to take. A play that a school is producing. And utilize all facets of that. Drama. There's could be cooperation between the drum of the PARP and an English department. Those who can't read now learn to read a script. And participate. Speaking if they have a problem in their speech pattern. Working in developing a speech pattern correct speech pattern through working in a theater. Drawing and painting for the sets. Working in the shop. It seems to be unanimous then that it is not an either or situation is that what this study has. Found. I think it is not an either or situation. We lay our lot on that point though don't you believe in.
Local districts. They in the past I think. Have suffered from tunnel vision. We have looked at the arts as a separate category. And. We have. Provided 30 minutes. Per week of art or 30 minutes per week of music and we have considered that to be the way to enrich a child's learning experience. And I think what we're learning is that if we integrate the arts into all of the learning experiences that it doesn't cost more money that it can make the total learning experience more valuable and it enhances the quality of life for youngster has a lot of leisure time. And can discover all kinds of exciting things that can be the bonus. From from their learning experiences. Sometimes you wonder in education we're sort of. Shy and we fall behind everybody else is a shy little bit I think. If professional football teams have discovered ballet for example as a. As a extremely vital form of exercise and balance and self-discipline and
muscle tone. But yet we shy away from incorporating ballet as a form of self-expression in our schools. You know one wonders where leadership is coming from sending us to a business an industry where they commission art forms and even commission even even give sabbaticals to some of their own people. To pursue various forms of Visual Arts. I think maybe we need to be a little bit more dishes and we have been past. Where that would put the whole state on notice that the it's not if they're going to be about authentication. Do you see that this is going to make a difference in the way we train teachers. Oh definitely. Definitely this will have some part of it as was said. Teachers for many years have thought of a single period for music a single period art and something that can't be. That's a tunnel vision that we were talking about. We have to take that away. We have to look at the arts as a fully a part of our total life our total educational program. And when we do that the arts will grow and they will
grow into the community. They say that in the few years we will be working three and a half four days a week. Now what are we going to do with our lifestyle. The arts must come into play an important role in that. And through education we can do that. And we feel that we can. Incorporate. Integrate the arts with a total learning program. That your study shows us. Doesn't that only 20 percent of the schools in the state are not meeting what you now consider state goals for the Arts. That's very low. The state goal has not been defined with great precision and I think that the taskforce the. That has worked on this obviously are people who are utterly committed and I have to support that I've done so. I think that they're making a series of recommendations to me. And the staff will try to digest those recommendations and eventually come to the State Board of Education with a series of proposals.
That I wonder where does the implementation stack. After all this work. What now what happens. I was a whole series of things. The state probably looked to the Commissioner for a series of recommendations based upon the recommendation that I made to me by people that are the leadership that's gathered here. And the State Board of Education sets overall policy for education. They will then hopefully take that advice and develop a series of proposals and policies if those policies require legislation or if they require additional budget and ultimately it rests in the hands of the state legislature of New Jersey. To find the resources or state boards or local boards of education. Do you. Foresee that anything in your plan will require legislation. You know we you know. We we are. Looking for new legislation in the new in the near future at least so that it will be implemented within the existing structure. Yes we think that the existing official education law.
Calls for arts programs to be a part of the total education program. And that that is sufficient for school districts to work on their arts programs. There's also another piece in coordinating all of these efforts and that is the funding opportunities. That exist which are not known to many school district lending outside funding outside of the state and the local district perhaps within the state but not from the State Department of Education or the state government per se. There is the State Council on the arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. There are many opportunities for funding which can be used. If you know that they're out there. If you know how to write a proposal. And if you can demonstrate that you're going to do something creative with that funding. One good example of that is we were talking about using the arts to teach reading.
We can use compensatory education funding. And incorporate arts stronger arts programs into the compensatory education program. And that's one example of using state funding but there's also local funding that can be called on for this tour only local funding but. This program will take up the entire community the community resources or community theatre community choral group. Community Arts Council held a Cultural Heritage Commission. The colleges the university telling play in this total program to integrate the arts. Into our tone curriculum has there's been enough communication among all these this is what we hope to come out of the new series of meetings that we've been planning is going on anywhere now in New Jersey where you're talking to what you're describing is that kind of cooperation Washington Hi yeah. Helen Thomas as an example in Middlesex County Cultural Arts Commission has been very active and I'm from South Brunswick which is in the north of county and
we have had the opportunity to provide programs in our district because the county Cultural Arts Commission has been working closely with our Regel. Town Cultural Arts Commission and the school board and as a result of that we have had poets in residence Artists in Residence funded by the county funded partially by Vacanti partially by the State Council on the arts and the National Endowment for the arts and some local funding as well. What we need is some mechanism statewide. To coordinate all of these efforts because individual districts are fortunate enough to know that that money is out there but there are lots of districts that don't now well that they do not like. You know I think optimism is great but there for video are serious about this. Let's go back to one of the OP observations you made that only 20 percent. Of the districts are already providing what you would call a minimal level of art education. And let's assume that maybe there's a 10 or 15 percent waste in the available federal state one of which not being not being applied for use if
they were you still we have 25000 2500 schools in the state we have 600 school districts. We don't have an approximate million youngsters and. Even if we improved our capacity to communicate amongst ourselves in various state agencies in various voluntary groups and associations. And even if we did a better job of applying for for the limited federal dollars that exist. We would make a marginal gain and I think we should by the way I would certainly advocate that. But if you're really talking about making a fundamental change or difference in in the capacity of a whole generation of Jersey youngsters to develop a sense of their own culture and their identity known civilization to the arts. Then obviously that marginal difference isn't going to do it is it. It's not enough. But it sure is a start. So you're going to be asking for more money are you going to be requiring what's the point I'm making I think that last analysis we have to face up to this. I have no reluctance to say that if we believe that. The quality of civilization depends upon. The extent to which the emerging generation
of young people in New Jersey are aware of their cultural heritage through the various art forms of performing arts of visual arts and so on. And that there are insufficient resources available to present time to provide them with that then if indeed we firmly believe. That a civilized society depends on that then we ought to face up the question of more funding the necessary. Well you don't even have enough work to do. I mean just to put one art teacher in every place that you'd like to have one you. While I suspect there are too many are teachers right now unfortunate because I think that the limitation on the education expenditure. Has led to a number of our teachers being being let go with that first aid that but in the schools we don't have enough aren't teachers and even when we think of integrating. The arts into the total program we have to remember that it's essential. That art and music and drama and dance be taught as such as the foundation of that program. We're not talking about just using the arts in reading or English. But those arts have to really be alive and taught sequin chilly to children.
I couldn't do this but could any of you walk into a school building an elementary school building or secondary school building and just by looking around. A bit whatever is on the on the hanging on the walls and you tell whether that school has a good art program or not. I think you know if you could I would have days I think I can but only because I have been in literally. I don't know hundreds or thousands of schools in the jersey in four years and you can tell when you walk past the auditorium where you hear music coming from it or whether there's nobody in it. You can tell if you go through the auditorium whether there are instrumental rooms where people are practicing rehearsing. You can tell by walking into a classroom and talking to the teacher and seeing what's on the wall. There are literally dozens of kinds of ways that one gets a sense and feel or. For they sense. Of integration of art in its broadest sense into the total total culture of that school the way the education system is structured not let's say you had a potential.
Dating myself Harry James. I don't know that's the view from the right. OK you help me with that trombone player since you've got a lot of Miles Davis. Like. Somebody of that caliber. But he couldn't read or write worth a damn. What would happen to him in the school system. Today. You know I kind of. I think that he might have made a living playing in. Certain limited engagements but I suspect that today if he were to perform and earn a good living he'd have to be able to read. And then be able to read music. And I suspect that if he were to develop a fairly sophisticated. Capacity to deal with rhythm and music today he'd have to compute does the same apply to the child you described earlier. Here we had a handicapped child. This is a special case and I'm very pleased that the.
Advisory Group has has taken in consideration the needs of handicapped youngsters and the extraordinary input that that art can play in coping with the special problems of handicapped youngsters the handicapped youngster. Are you satisfied today that the present structure that the unusual child at either end of the spectrum is the beneficiary of enough. Jimmy No I don't think so. I don't think society can provide. Sufficient help really for the extraordinary youngster to be that youngster handicapped or retarded or gifted. We never will provide enough. Because there is no limit really to what can be provided we have to make. A subjective judgment of decision. And let me turn that other question around a little blood so suppose you do have a child who is very a very good student in all of the basics. But he also happens to be very talented and one of the arts dance music. Could he go through the system and not be discovered and not discover he has that talent and I
think he could have and it's less likely that the thing that happens much too frequently is that that student is who is gifted in. Academic areas is guided to only do work in those areas. And not to do work in the arts so that. The student is sure to become a candidate for the better colleges and that's a really serious it would have been without him spies. Despite my girth and size at. That I probably had extraordinary talent for ballet and was never given an opportunity to write. Because you know what I did. OK then I'm not that familiar with the art so I think there are things I want to bring out. I was a teacher music teacher in the public schools in New York also a teacher in the faculty at York State College when I was New York State a skein college now and I'm on the school board in my local school district where I live the normal County. So when you
ask about an instrumental instrumentalists a young kid coming through the music program can he be spotted today. I say yes he can be spotted today and we have a very talented artist within our public schools people that will take a group of youngsters and put them aside if they are talented and say to their parents that I can go so far within the public school setting. That I recommend that you carry on by giving private lessons and between the private lessons and the public school lessons they will form an ensemble whether it's a classical ensemble or jazz ensemble and take that kid that much farther if they're for she don't live in a community where the parents have the sources or the commitment to one that I swear I think we fall down in many towns is when youngsters get to the high school level. We provide the resources early years. When they get to the high school there is a void in many instances. So that a youngster who is very gifted. In. The Arts. Dancing music or some other area may not
have the opportunity in school to develop that and we don't have a special high school in the state of New Jersey that's open to all students as they do in New York City for example. We do have a couple of districts that run special alternative programs like the Montclair school for the Performing Arts and they do a fantastic job and doing this well I guess it just goes to show the boys the boys choir boys. Crowded Yes. And the Garden State Ballet does enormous work with young people. We have some things going which we have reason to be proud of their new high school for fine performing arts too that's very very good. When we don't have something that all the kids can go to when we talk about the handicapped youngsters in the arts we can talk about the bilingual arrangements we have in the arts as well too because a great deal can be learned and promoted with these youngsters who speak only Spanish. And promote them into the you know in the audience and they learn English just as using English through the arts because most of the songs in most of the
information that they do in the arts is actually in the English language. One thing I want to get into excuse me was to crack a bit on the fruition of all this is going to happen tomorrow and Saturday in New Jersey in doctrine and I think you better get the specifics on that for people who might be interested in it is a public hearing is that correct. First yes a public hearing for the state planned for arts and education. That's tomorrow at 3 o'clock at Rutgers University in New Brunswick. And then Saturday we will have another public hearing at 11 o'clock. At Rutgers. But on Saturday we will also have. So many of the model programs we've been talking about community arts programs and school model school programs and so forth. Those will be showcased on Saturday. We have as many as 100 different programs being shown. Now the sad I know report that is given to the commissioner that will include what testimony you hear tomorrow and Saturday I would imagine. Yes the read the draft of the report that we have now will be revised when we get responses from the
public and from our panels. And then the final report will be so many people who have a firm feeling about arts education New Jersey should come to Rutgers College Avenue campus tomorrow yes tomorrow is our city art gallery three o'clock tomorrow afternoon and 9 o'clock on Saturday morning. I can hear the taxpayers out there right now asking how much more is this all going to cost. And I know you want to do it under the current budgets and everything but Dr Burt has said it's probably not going to be done under current budgets if you want to do it right and if you want to do it and expand it the way you would like to have it expanded. Anybody have a price tag of the yacht's have never had as much money as they really want at the arch where the last one down at the bottom of the list. CORNISH still there there were still there are still there. It's going to take an awful lot to move this up to the point where we can really be of some benefit not only to ourselves our change our image of the arts totally but to be of importance to our whole society. Well of what every one of you have represented here this evening is fact and important to
society to a society. For development why is it always in the bottom of the list. Maybe we have to rework our priorities. How are you going to do that. Very difficult and hot potato we should thank you for everything I do that you really do. Historically in the United States the arts have been at the bottom of the list we're not experiencing something new even though the inflationary pressures are very difficult right now. But studies in the new new book coming to our senses shows that historically. The odds have been not fostered in American education. So we're really on the brink of moving and. Doing better than we have been. Still haven't heard any figures. But I think you will when you saw a little money in the arts I can't tell you. How far we make a tiny bit of money. I would say even if school budgets put in extra
- Arts / Education
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- New Jersey Network (Trenton, New Jersey)
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New Jersey Network
Identifier: UC30-593 (NJN ID)
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