Wire*—In a huge win for advocates of arts education,  Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has signed into law a bill to create a State Seal of Arts Proficiency to be affixed to diplomas of graduating public high school seniors who demonstrate completion of a rigorous program of arts study based on state standards.

SB1111, directing the creation of the seal, was introduced earlier this year by Sen. Paul Boyer of Phoenix and passed the Senate 30-1 and the House by a 51-6-3 vote.

The seal qualifications, involving a combination of focused study in at least one arts discipline, volunteerism and a capstone project, are being developed by a working group of arts educators based on state standards for arts education and guidelines determined by the Arizona Department of Education and the Arizona State Board of Education. Schools will be able to opt-in to the voluntary program as soon as the 2019-20 school year.

Image courtesy of Arizona Citizens for the Arts

Image courtesy of Arizona Citizens for the Arts

“Arts programs are an essential part of a well-rounded education system, not just electives that are nice for students to have, ” said Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman. “Research has proven that a balanced, comprehensive and sequential program of study in the arts allows Arizona’s students to learn and practice 21st-century skills and behaviors that improve critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creative problem solving.

“I commend the Legislature for passing SB1111, which recognizes the superb work accomplished by students across Arizona, ” she said.

“Numerous studies validate the role of arts education in encouraging high school completion and post-secondary education and improving overall academic performance,” said Arizona Citizens for the Arts Executive Director Catherine “Rusty” Foley. “We are pleased that an overwhelming majority of the State Legislature and the Governor endorse the Arts Seal as a means of elevating this important role of arts education and the need to recognize students who pursue in-depth study of the arts.  The Arts Seal also will support career development in Arizona’s creative industries, a $9 billion sector that provides more than 90,000 jobs in our state.”

The state Education Department and Arizona Citizens for the Arts were aided in advocacy for the passage of the seal legislation by arts education advocates from around the state.

For more information about arts education in Arizona and the need for arts education advocacy,  visit https://www.azed.gov/artseducation/ or https://azcitizensforthearts.org/arts-education/

*DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from trusted sources without translation.