Testimony by Dr. Mary Reece Before the Arts Education Joint Committee

Posted · Add Comment

Good Morning! I am Mary Reece, from the NJ Principals and Supervisors Association; I am also a founding board member and former chairperson of Arts Ed NJ. 

NJPSA’s collaboration with Arts Ed NJ, began in 2007 when the first statewide census report on the status and condition of arts education was released. NJPSA’s executive director at the time was very impressed with the report, and she asked me to serve as our association’s representative on the organization’s Steering Committee. 

Arts Ed NJ’s effectiveness was, and continues to be, its collective impact model that brings together everyone who needs to be at the table to advance arts education. You will find at its meetings, representatives from NJPSA, NJSBA, NJASA, NJEA, NJPTA, all the Arts Associations, nonprofits, and philanthropy.  

As you know, NJPSA’s membership includes virtually all the supervisors and directors of arts education programs in our state. Along with school leaders, they are responsible for ensuring that arts classes are rigorous, high quality and accessible to all students in their districts. I am proud that two of our stellar supervisors are presenting this morning.

Since our initial involvement, NJPSA has worked closely with Arts Ed NJ along with the NJ Department of Education to advance many initiatives to reach the goal of arts education for every child, every day, every school, every year

Most notable accomplishments include:

  • The addition of arts education in QSAC, the NJDOE’s accountability review of school districts;
  • The coordination of the revision of the former Core Curriculum Content Standards for the Visual and Performing Arts, and the subsequent Student Learning Standards;  
  • The inclusion of arts education measures as part of the annual School Performance Reports released for every school;
  • The sponsorship of several statewide Arts Education Summits, including this year’s first Youth Arts Ed Summit;
  • A grade weighting bill, passed in 2016, that required school districts to weight courses in the visual and performing arts equally with other courses of the same level of academic rigor so that the accurate number of credits were calculated in a pupil’s grade point average;
  • And three years ago, the establishment of the Center for Arts Education and Social Emotional Learning.

There are many more positive outcomes and initiatives that have occurred which will be highlighted by our other panelists.

As a former principal in Edison Township, I have witnessed the impact of strong arts programming, and I was proud of the levels of accomplishment our students achieved in the arts. Our faculty members of the visual and performing arts department were among the best in our state. In fact, the band director at the time was selected as a finalist for the first-ever Grammy Music Educator Award. Sadly, Andy DeNicola passed away recently. 

Whether students were considering careers in the arts or participating in classes and activities to expand their creative abilities, the experiences were all high quality and accessible to all students – particularly those with disabilities and multilingual learners.

The same is my wish for every student in NJ – that they have the chance to participate in high quality, creative, joyful, inspiring and culturally sustaining classes in all art forms.

Thank you.

Mary M. Reece, Ed.D.

NJ Principals & Supervisors Association