News Flash

The Mayor's Office

Posted on: November 1, 2023

Davis, Mumin visit McKeesport Area High School

State officials talk with McKeesport students

State officials visit McKeesport Area High School for a special presentation on arts education requirements, opportunities, and initiatives.

On the afternoon of October 31, Mayor Cherepko was proud to sit in on a program that illustrated McKeesport Area School District’s commitment to the arts in education.
Capped with an on-stage discussion among four students, Pennsylvania Lt. Governor Austin Davis, and Secretary of Education Dr. Khalid N. Mumin, the event included performances by the high school orchestra, chorus, show choir, and Tournament of Bands champion Tiger Marching Band.

Secretary Mumin described the lieutenant governor, a McKeesport Area alumnus, as a shining example that ANYONE can do ANYTHING with great education, great guidance, and great motivation. He said the arts have great value in enhancing right/left brain intelligence, honing auditiry skills, lifting school spirit, and building community. He praised MASD students and leadership for their interest in the state’s commitment to a solid curriculum and extracurricular outlets for music, theatre, dance, and visual arts.

“No matter what they look like or what zip code they live in, Pennsylvania kids deserve a high-quality education, including instruction and experiences in the arts,” said Davis. “Art, music, dance, and theater are not merely enrichment; they are essential for preparing our kids to be well-rounded citizens of our Commonwealth and the world. I was excited to participate in today’s event, which showcased the talented students in McKeesport.”

The interactive dashboard shows users which schools provide access to arts education and in what disciplines (Dance, Music, Theatre, Visual Arts, Media Arts), how many students are participating, how many arts teachers are providing instruction, who has access to arts instruction, and can be filtered by geographic location, demographic information, and date.

“Art and music education are critical to development as they provide learners with an array of skills that lead to increased academic outcomes,” said Secretary of Education Dr. Khalid N. Mumin. “By using data to survey the arts landscape in Pennsylvania, we will be able to make more informed policy decisions, and school communities can use this information to reflect on how they deliver arts instruction to their students.”

Funded by PDE, the Arts Dashboard is part of the National Arts Education Data Project (AEDP), a joint project between State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education (SEADAE) and its longtime partner, Quadrant Research, the pioneer of state-level arts education data reporting.

The goal of the project is for the data to be the catalyst to drive changes in arts education that will lead to increased participation for students across the nation. In 2022, 67.3% of students in PA public, charter, and career and technical schools were enrolled in arts courses. Also in 2022, 89% of students in Pennsylvania public schools had access to an arts course because 84% of those schools offered arts education.

“I am proud to highlight the incredible value that music education plays in the lives of our students. The music program in our district serves as a tool for fostering creativity, discipline and teamwork. Music has a positive impact on our students’ overall development,” said McKeesport Area School District Superintendent Dr. Tia Wanzo. “Our school’s band has had great success in the 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 competitive seasons. We are incredibly proud of the accomplishments of our band. Music is a vital part of a well-rounded education, and the district is committed to continuing our support for music education in schools.”

A study by the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California found that music education speeds up development of auditory pathways and makes them more efficient, which helps language and reading skills. Music can also help improve school readiness skills, including intellectual and social-emotional processing, motor skills, language development, and overall literacy.

“Data drives decision making and policy. The launch of a statewide arts education data system allows us to get a better understanding of what access to music and arts education in Pennsylvania looks like,” said Mark Despotakis, Director of Public and Government Affairs, Pennsylvania Music Educators Association. “This data will only serve to strengthen our work to make sure that every child in Pennsylvania has the chance to learn and grow with music and the arts. The dashboard allows us to look at access through micro and macro lenses and we will be able to better understand where access deficiencies exist and why. That understanding will help to inform better decision making.”

In Pennsylvania, all students in grades K-12 must be provided with instruction in all four arts disciplines: dance, music, theater, and the visual arts. Dance Education is a kinesthetic art form that satisfies the human need to respond to life experiences through movement of the physical being; Music Education is an aural art form that satisfies the human need to respond to life experiences through singing, listening and/or playing an instrument; Theatre Education is an interdisciplinary art form that satisfies the human need to express thoughts and feelings through written text, dramatic interpretation and multimedia production; and Visual Arts Education is a spatial art form that satisfies the human need to respond to life experiences through images, structures and tactile works. Local school districts are responsible for creating written curricula in all content areas.

For more information on the Pennsylvania Department of Education, please visit the website.

Facebook Twitter Email

Other News in The Mayor's Office