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Fewer NJ Students Taking Art Classes in School [AUDIO]

Student enrollment in art classes is dropping at Jersey Schools.

Paint Brushes
Flickr User Kara Allyson

Bob Morrison, the Project Director for the New Jersey Arts Education Census Project 2011, says a new survey finds over the past 5 years more schools are providing the opportunity for students to participate, “but on the other side we’re seeing that there are some pressures on the system that are making it difficult for students to actually participate in the programs…there was a decline in the elementary enrollment in arts programs from 86 percent in 2006 to 80 percent n 2011…and the per pupil art spending for supplies declined by 30 percent – and at the high school level it declined by 44 percent over the past 5 years.”

So what’s causing the drop in art class enrollment?

“We’re not really sure what’s driving it” says Morrison, “and it’s clearly an area that we need to do some additional follow-up work…it’s certainly important to try and figure out whether this is an anomaly over the past 5 years because of the economic conditions and other priorities in our schools, or if this is actually a long-term trend…whatever the cause, the fact that there is that decline is a cause for concern.”

He adds “even though the presence of a full-time teacher has declined, still the vast majority of our schools are offering music and visual art – making that available to all students.”

Morrison points out it’s important for kids to be exposed to art in school because “the skills they gain from being involved in the arts are the very skills they need to be successful in life…the students that are entering schools today are going to be employed in businesses and industries – 15 years from now – that have yet to be invented…being able to create, being able to be innovative – these are the types of skills that students gain from being involved in the arts.”

He says recent studies show “schools that have higher levels of arts also had higher percentage of students that were scoring advanced proficient on the language -arts- literacy section of their HESPA tests – which is the state test for high school students…schools that had higher arts involvement had a higher percentage of seniors that indicated that they planned on attending college in the fall.”

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