Dear Department of Higher Education,
Arts and culture have built connected communities and a vibrant, thriving economy across the Commonwealth. Innovation and creativity are among the 21st century skills that have allowed our Commonwealth to gain and maintain a competitive economic edge by exporting creative ideas and products.
Art education – dance, media arts, music, theatre/drama, visual arts – is a necessary component for the development of the “whole child,” enabling each individual to become a productive, creative and innovative member of society.
Yet, while some districts have rich, sequential and regular arts learning in every grade, others have limited or no arts learning. This is the case despite the designation of the arts as a core academic subject in the 1993 Massachusetts Education Reform Act’s “Common Core of Learning”.
As a coalition of arts, education, community and business leaders from across the state, we need to establish arts education as integral to every school district’s curriculum. We ask that you establish one year of arts education in high school as an admission requirement to the Massachusetts state university system, including UMASS.
Current admission criteria include specific courses in English, Math, Science, Social Studies and Foreign Languages. Experience has shown in Massachusetts that adoption of these subject requirements ensure they are taught in every high school across the Commonwealth, resulting in a strategic sequence of learning. Inclusion of the arts will help make certain all students in the Commonwealth have access to the arts regardless of geographic location, ethnicity, or socio-economic level.