Early education in the arts helps children develop creative problem-solving skills. It also benefits their motor skills, language skills, social skills and decision-making process. Which is why the Newark Arts Education Roundtable – NAER – advocates for arts education as an essential part of school curriculum. In short, they believe arts education enhances the lives of students.
While visiting the set of Caucus: New Jersey with Steve Adubato, Lauren Meehan spoke with show host Steve Adubato, PhD. Meehan is the director of NAER, and believes art is essential to a complete education; as well as the overall healthy development of communities.
Newark Arts Education Roundtable Promotes Creative Learning in NJ
NAER is a strategic alliance of more than 50 arts education stakeholders. These stakeholders include public, charter and private schools, in addition to artists, businesses, arts and cultural organizations and government agencies. Overall, their mission is to ensure school children in Newark have equitable access to “high quality, sequential arts education opportunities.”
“We are a collective impact initiative,” explains Meehan. “Which is basically a fancy way of saying, ‘When you have a really big problem, you need a lot of people to help you solve it.’”
The problem NAER addresses is students’ access, or lack thereof, to arts education in Newark. Focusing exclusively on public, charter and parochial schools within the city, they combat a variety of challenges. In particular, the Essex County city frequently runs into a budgetary issue when it comes to arts education.
“One (barrier) is reduced funding,” Meehan admits. “That’s been a really critical piece, especially in the last 10 years. Post-recession, there’s less spending in a lot of communities around arts education. Different teacher evaluation systems are really test based, so a lot of classroom time that would have been spent on arts education has gone to testing. And so prioritizing it and finding the resources for it have been a challenge; but our work in the last 10 years has definitely made an impact.”
Want to learn more about the importance of early education in the arts? Then check out this edition of Caucus: New Jersey with Steve Adubato.
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