Steven Van Zandt’s Rock and Roll Forever Foundation and the New Jersey School Boards Association last week announced a collaborative effort 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.
Van Zandt, who recently received an honorary doctorate at Rutgers University, where he served as commencement speaker, is a rock musician and member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band.
NJSBA 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 Foundation in this effort.”
At Rutgers University’s recent graduation, Van Zandt addressed the importance of the arts.
“We are the only country in the world where art is considered a luxury,” Van Zandt said. “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.”
Van Zandt’s 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.
The Rock and Roll Forever Foundation will support the integration of the “A,” for “arts” in New Jersey’s STEAM education programming through arts-based materials designed 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.
Steven Van Zandt’s Rock and Roll Forever Foundation will take a major step in that effort to put art back in the classroom, in collaboration with the New Jersey School Boards Association.