Newark Public Schools Introduces Arts Education Landscape Baseline Report

[Newark, NJ – November 10, 2021] Newark Public Schools released Newark Public Schools Arts Education Landscape Baseline Report 2019-2020 after it was approved by the Newark Board of Education on October 28, 2021.

The report was developed in response to NPS Clarity 2020, a one-year strategic plan that established the foundation for The Next Decade: 2020-30, and produced by the Office of Visual and Performing Arts under the leadership of Director, Margaret El. Framed from an equity lens, the report examines district-wide data from the 2019-2020 school year in five areas impacting quality arts education: Student Access and Participation; Capacity Building; Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment; Partnership and Collaboration; and Infrastructure and Sustaining the Arts. Each of the five areas includes an equity statement, a goal, findings, benchmarks, and 10-year action items through 2030.

Superintendent Roger León expressed his enthusiastic support, “The arts are an integral part of the fabric of Newark and essential to stimulating innovation, creativity, and critical thinking, and our students are so talented. This unprecedented report marks our commitment to high-quality sequential arts instruction for every child, and for the first time, provides a baseline by which we can track progress moving forward. I commend the Office of Visual and Performing Arts, for undertaking this major project in response to NPS Clarity 2020, and creating a 10-year roadmap aligned with The Next Decade to ensure our students have equitable access to all the arts—dance, music, theatre, and visual arts.”

Using multiple data sources, the report provides essential information on the state of Pre K-12 arts education across the district during the 2019-2020 school year. Findings from the report, including strengths, weaknesses, challenges, opportunities, and trends, were used to develop arts education goals and benchmarks for the next decade.

“On behalf of the Board, we are proud to fully support the implementation of this arts plan. The report is thorough in its examination of district-wide arts education. While it shines a light on the excellence within the district, it is clear vast resources and support are still needed to achieve arts for all. We encourage our stakeholders and valuable community partners to help make this vision a reality for Newark students,” remarked Dawn Haynes, President, Newark Board of Education.

Newark Public Schools believes in the arts as a core content area, as evidenced by its consistent and longstanding practice of hiring full-time certified arts educators to teach dance, music, theatre, and visual arts. The district employed 216 certified arts educators during the 2019-2020 school year, and 92% of schools offered both music and visual arts. Under COVID-19 the district has increased the number of full-time certified arts educators to 224 for the 2021-2022 school year.

Margaret El, Director of the Visual and Performing Arts, stated “A well-rounded and rigorous education includes the arts as an essential core academic subject. Our vision is that through this process, we will chart a clear and equitable path to ensure all Newark students are engaged in quality, sequential arts education in multiple disciplines; our teachers are fully supported in their practice; and the arts community’s vast resources, relationships, and partnerships are leveraged for the benefit of our young people. This report highlights the excellence that we see each and every day in our arts classrooms and schools, identifies areas of need and provides a roadmap for the next 10 years to achieve our mission to inspire every Newark Public School student to discover and achieve their highest creative potential.

We are thrilled to begin implementation and are so grateful for the support of Superintendent León, the Newark Board of Education, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Dr. Mary Ann Reilly, and the Prudential and Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation for continued support for the Renew the Arts initiative.

For more information, please contact:
Nancy J. Deering
Communications, Acting Director
Office: 973-733-6265