Saturday, May 9, 2009

Maine is Setting New Graduation Requirements: and the Arts MUST be fully part of them

Here we go again: our state legislature is hard at work trying to "dumb down" our state high school graduation requirements.

There are 8 learning standards defined in the Maine Learning Results, yet a new piece of legislation, LD 1325, An Act Regarding Curriculum Requirements, calls for students to "fully meet" standards in some of these areas and only to "partially meet" them in other areas--including the Visual and Performing Arts.

This kind of requirement officially devalues the arts in state law--and ignores broad-based research which proves that students perform better across the board when they learn in and through the arts.

It's important for our students'--and, by extension, our state's economic and cultural--futures that we let our legislators know our students need to FULLY MEET standards in all 8 learning areas: including the Visual and Performing Arts. All Maine students must have equal access to rigorous instruction by highly qualified teachers and their learning must be appropriately assessed. Students must be required to fully meet those essential standards in all 8 areas! For the Visual and Performing Arts, this means students would be required to receive instruction in 2 of the 4 visual and performing arts disciplines--not too much to ask for a well-rounded education, is it? The arts education community is willing and ready to work with the Dept of Education and local districts to find effective ways to make this work within the realities of the school day schedule.

So if you can, gather in Augusta at the Cross State Office Building Room 201 by 1PM THIS MONDAY, MAY 11.

If you are unable to attend the hearing: you can contact members of the
Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs
Senator Justin L. Alfond (D-Cumberland), Chair

Senator Elizabeth M. Schneider (D-Penobscot)

Senator Carol Weston (R-Waldo)

Representative Patricia B. Sutherland (D-Chapman), Chair

Representative Edward D. Finch (D-Fairfield)

Representative Alan M. Casavant (D-Biddeford)

Representative Richard V. Wagner (D-Lewiston)

Representative Stephen D. Lovejoy (D-Portland)

Representative Mary Pennell Nelson (D-Falmouth)

Representative Helen Rankin (D-Hiram)

Representative David E. Richardson (R-Carmel)*

Representative Howard E. McFadden (R-Dennysville)

Representative Peter B. Johnson (R-Greenville)