Senator Lesser Helps Rally Support for K-12 Arts Education with Letter to State Commissioner

“Arts education reduces the achievement gap,” Lesser said

BOSTON — Senator Eric P. Lesser, along with Senators Sonia Chang-Diaz and Adam Hinds, took the lead in supporting arts education, rallying 59 House and Senate colleagues to cosign a March 9 letter to the state Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) lauding the Commissioner’s inclusion of arts education in its draft accountability and assistance plan for Grades K-12.

The letter reads, in part: “We congratulate our ESE leaders for the outstanding educational achievements that place Massachusetts students among the top achievers not only nationwide, but across the world. However, maintaining our educational reputation means adjusting to complex and rapidly changing times. Recognition of the value of arts education re-asserts our leadership in student creativity and innovation.”

“Developing accountability for arts education is in line with our state’s tradition of global and national leadership in education. By legislative initiative, Massachusetts provided the first public school arts education in the nation in 1870 — an economic imperative then as it is today,” the letter also states.

“The arts are pivotal to developing the creative, ambitious students that Massachusetts is known for. Research has shown that the arts also improve students’ attention, resulting in better outcomes on a variety of subjects, and fosters community by increasing school pride. I am proud to support the arts and will continue to work to ensure they remain a pillar of our curriculum here in Massachusetts,” said Sen. Lesser.

“Arts education reduces the achievement gap,” he added.

Many members of the Western Massachusetts House and Senate delegation joined Lesser in signing the letter, which also praised the state’s efforts as part of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) signed by President Obama in 2015.

The goal of ESSA was to improve upon the controversial 2002 No Child Left Behind Act and ensure that every student has access to a well-rounded education.

Lesser has also introduced legislation to encourage civics and media literacy education, which, like the arts, have been cut from school curricula in recent years.

“We should make sure that we are not just preparing students for careers, but that we are also teaching them to think critically about the society we live in and the information we are receiving,” Lesser said.

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