On Monday, Sept. 9, Governor Phil Murphy held a press conference at Paramus High School to announce New Jersey as the first and only state to have guaranteed access to arts education in 100 percent of public schools.

“This is a big moment. I’d like to begin by celebrating the fact that New Jersey has reached a milestone of one hundred percent of our public schools offering arts programs. That’s an incredible achievement that I know the state and our schools have worked very hard to accomplish,” the governor announced. “We are the only state in the United States of America to do that.”

Widely recognized as a national leader in arts education, New Jersey has become the first state in the nation to provide universal access to arts education for all public school students according to the 2019 New Jersey Arts Education Annual Summary Report released Monday by Arts Ed NJ, a non-profit education organization. The review is based on data from the New Jersey State Department of Education for the 2017/2018 school year.

Murphy spoke alongside other local politicians and representatives of Arts Ed Now to a room full of advocates and leaders in education from throughout the state.

Patrick O’Keefe, director of bands at Absegami High School in Galloway, serves as president of the New Jersey Music Educators Association.

“Universal access to arts instruction in New Jersey is a huge milestone within our overall education system and should be applauded alongside the tireless work of our advocates. Inspiring things are happening in music classrooms throughout the state and our educators will continue to strive to create a depth of inclusive offerings for our students,” O’Keefe said.

“It was very inspiring to hear the governor speak to some of the points that so many of us see to be true in our classes everyday. Arts education is a crucial component of a student’s school experience and reaps benefits far beyond the classroom in creating well rounded, motivated, creative thinkers and people. We strive for excellence in that area at Absegami, and it is reaffirming to know that culture is reinforced throughout the state.”

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