Steven Van Zandt’s Rock and Roll Forever Foundation and the New Jersey School Boards Association today announced a collaboration to provide teachers and administrators in New Jersey’s public school districts with access to arts-based, STEAM-aligned professional development and a wealth of educational materials, free of charge.
Even though the announcement comes only days after Van Zandt received an honorary doctorate from Rutgers University, the foundation has been developing educational materials through its TeachRock project for nearly a decade. Recent TeachRock collaborations with Ron Howard’s The Beatles: Eight Days A Week documentary and the critically acclaimed PBS Soundbreaking series have contributed to the vast collection of standards-aligned, popular music-based lesson plans housed at teachrock.org. The foundation’s materials represent diverse perspectives on American culture appropriate for social studies, history, language arts, general music, and even science classrooms.
Now, Van Zandt plans to stand by the “Jersey roots, global reach” theme he developed during his Rutgers commencement speech by providing staff and materials to support the integration of the “A,” for “arts,” in New Jersey’s new STEAM public education program. Like many states, New Jersey has recognized that the existing “STEM” curriculum, which focuses on science, technology, engineering, and math, is strong, but incomplete. Van Zandt’s foundation will help round out that curriculum with arts-based materials that are proven to inspire student inquiry, dialog, critical thinking, and innovation. The foundation will further support the materials, and the state, with professional development services for teachers, free of charge.
“We are the only country in the world where art is considered a luxury,” Van Zandt told the Rutgers crowd, “But your generation will put art back in the classrooms and back as an essential part of our quality of life for all of society.” Beginning today, Steven Van Zandt’s Rock and Roll Forever Foundation will take the first step in collaboration with the New Jersey School Boards Association.
The New Jersey School Boards Association, a federation of the state’s local school districts, provides training and services to boards of education and their members. The organization is committed to the advancement of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics) education in the state’s public schools.
“As we advance science, technology engineering and mathematics, we cannot lose sight of the arts,” said Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod, NJSBA executive director. “Research has linked the visual and performing arts with improved attendance, increased academic performance, decreased drop-out and discipline rates, and higher levels of college attendance. We are pleased to cooperate with the Rock and Roll Forever Foundation in this effort.