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W.Va. to Make the Arts a Priority in 21st Century

June 09, 2006

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The arts have been an important way to record the human experience since cavemen first drew on rock walls. Today, the arts remain vital to the success of a 21st century student.  

The West Virginia Department of Education, one of only two states to join the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, is working to make sure the arts remain part of the 21st century classroom. Educators met Friday in Charleston to participate in a national conference call about the arts education in the 21st century.  

“Arts programs encourage students to think creatively and adopt fresh approaches,” said state Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine. “They challenge our perceptions and help bridge language and other barrier among diverse cultures in today’s global society.”  

The Partnership's 21st century model for teaching and learning emphasizes problem solving skills, critical thinking skills, communication skills, financial and technology literacy, and global and cultural awareness. Research shows the arts develop ways of thinking that are visual rather than verbal. Reports by the College Entrance Examination Board show that college bound students who studied the arts did better on the SAT than those who didn’t.  

And the national Governors Association recognizes arts education can be a cost-effective way to build the workforce of tomorrow by blending art and science. “Our education system will never experience true reform appropriate to the 21st century until our schools become exciting places of discovery. The arts are essential to this kind of reform.”  

In West Virginia, music and visual art are required core subjects in the K-8 curriculum.  

In grades 9 through 12, dance, music, theatre and visual art must be offered courses, and no student can graduate without an arts credit.  

For more information about arts education in West Virginia, contact Julia Lee, arts coordinator for the West Virginia Department of Education, at (304) 558-7805.

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