This is a letter written to the legislature in opposition to LD 1627 (info below on bill). If enacted, this bill will remove the compulsory graduation requirement for Visual and performing Arts except for students who opt to demonstrate proficiency; students would no longer be held to the standard of meeting proficiency in all 8 subject areas as defined in the Maine Learning Results. While the legislation does not overtly eliminate the Arts, it does overtly marginalize them. This same approach was presented in a bill in 2009, where students would only have to “partially meet the standards” in some content areas. It was defeated then and we must work to defeat it now.
To Members of the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee:
I am writing to express my opposition to L.D. 1627.
As an experienced visual arts educator of more than 29 years, I have the unique perspective of observing many former students’ continuing involvement with the arts, in their careers or life-long endeavors. Through the classroom experience they have graduated to become building and landscape architects, art historians, graphic designers, illustrators, professional crafts persons, sculptors, painters, printmakers, multi-media artists, fashion designers, and interior designers. Those who did not become career artists continue to explore the arts as a means of personal expression, and are an appreciative, informed, and literate audience for varied arts performances.
Did they all know that this would be their passion in life? Not all did, and without the support of arts education in those formative developmental years, this personal discovery of their unique abilities might have been lost. The arts address the areas of actively doing, creating, reacting, critical thinking, interacting with an audience, problem solving and performing. The arts offer an unequaled knowledge from other subjects in the academic curriculum. Studies have shown that engagement in the arts can enhance learning in other disciplines. At a stage in their development, when many students are experiencing difficulty in finding their personal identity and a sense of purpose in their lives, the arts can provide a self-actualizing experience that may keep them from floundering.
Music, dance, and performing arts students also require these experiences to discover their potential. Through these activities, many will understand the interrelationship of all the arts. The arts are about creativity, imagination and, for many, the very soul of their being – their raison d’etre. Without an arts requirement, many of our children will never discover their full potential.
Please keep the arts involvement in the public schools.
Christine J. Higgins, Artist/Educator, Readfield, ME
The information about the bill (from Maine Alliance for Arts Education):
Information: A bill coming out of the Maine Legislature’s Education and Cultural Affairs Committee, LD 1627, An Act To Implement Certain Recommendations of the Maine Proficiency Education Council, proposes these changes to Maine’s graduation requirements:
A. Schools must certify that the student has demonstrated proficiency in meeting state graduation standards authorized by applicable rules ONLY in the content areas of English Language Arts and Mathematics, and at least two additional content areas of their choosing (§4722-A).
B. The Maine Learning Results would serve ONLY to establish “essential instruction”, not graduation requirements as it does now (§6209).
Link to complete text of LD 1627: http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/bills_127th/billtexts/SP066001.asp
In response to the proposed bill L.D. 1627 concerning graduation requirement changes, I wrote the above letter to the members of the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee. Any person(s) who oppose having the arts marginalized in our public education system might please also contact their representatives as well as the committee members, who are listed below.
CONTACT INFORMATION: Members of the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee