Advocacy Alert!

GCAAE-Advocacy-Card-cover-400x229Bill, LD 1627, An Act To Implement Certain Recommendations of the Maine Proficiency Education Council is coming out in the Maine State legislature.  It wants to change graduation requirements and it proposes a real threat to the future of Arts Education in the state of Maine!

The way the law is written now, students must demonstrate proficiency in all 8 content areas, the arts being a required content area. This recognizes that the arts are essential to education.

If this bill is enacted, students would be required to demonstrate proficiency in Math and English Language Arts and 2 content areas of the schools choosing.

This poses a real threat to arts education. If the arts are not recognized, at the state level,  as essential and students are no longer required to meet proficiency in the arts, districts will not have to provide the arts in their schools.

What can you do?

In Augusta on Monday, March 7, at 11:00 AM,  the Legislature’s Education Committee will hold a hearing.   This hearing is open to the public.  You may testify either in person or in writing.

WRITE YOUR COMMITTEE MEMBER!!!!  This is your representative who will be present at the hearing and will be casting a vote based on what his or her people want.  These representatives are listed below.   Follow the link for their contact information.  http://www.maine.gov/legis/house/jt_com/edu.htm

Senator Brian D. Langley, Chair (R-Hancock)

Senator Peter E. Edgecomb (R-Aroostook)

Senator Rebecca J. Millett (D-Cumberland)

Representative Victoria P. Kornfield, Chair (D-Bangor)

Representative Matthea Elisabeth Larsen Daughtry (D-Brunswick)

Representative Brian L. Hubbell (D-Bar Harbor)

Representative Richard R. Farnsworth (D-Portland)

Representative Ryan D. Tipping-Spitz (D-Orono)

Representative Teresa S. Pierce (D-Falmouth)

Representative Joyce A. Maker (R-Calais)

Representative Michael D. McClellan (R-Raymond)

Representative Matthew G. Pouliot (R-Augusta)

Representative Paul A. Stearns (R-Guilford)

The following information comes from the Maine Alliance for Arts Education and you can use this information as a guide to write your letter.

Protocol for letters:

1) Please make sure you PERSONALIZE IT, but below is a general format/wording you may use if you would like a starting point.

2) Please fill in the body with the talking point(s) of YOUR choice from the list below.

3) The body should be as brief as possible while being very clear what your concerns are.

4) This is NOT the time for rants or attacks, but rather an opportunity for clear, concise messages of authentic concern to be respectfully articulated.

 

March 2, 2016

Senator/Representative {                        }

Maine Legislature

Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs

Dear Sen./Rep. {                      }:

As you prepare to deliberate on LD 1627, I want to express my deep concern over this bill as submitted. {insert recommended talking point(s) here in YOUR OWN words}

{closing sentences…. you may articulate your concern that The Arts stay at the forefront of our educational institutions in Maine, your concern of marginalizing the importance of the Arts, your own personal plea/insights or whatever you wish}. Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Possible talking points:

The concern expressed by the Council members that there may be “too many standards/too much content” is misplaced. The real need isn’t to reduce the number of standards, but to focus on how they are taught. When content and skills – what students need to know and what they need to be able to do – are taught through an authentically student-centered pedagogy, in which students feel that their own experiences, voice and ideas are respected, those same standards are more willingly and easily learned and more deeply understood.

 

·        We are very concerned about the impact of removing any proficiency requirement for all content areas . We are not asking for special treatment for the arts. We are asking for equity of achievement in all content areas for all Maine students.

 

·        The effect of this bill would be a continued, and accelerated erosion of opportunities for Maine students to learn in the Visual and Performing arts, making some less prepared for the 21st Century workplace than other students.

 

·        We know from the Arts Education Census conducted 8 years ago that all students, even at that time, did not have an equal opportunity to learn in the arts. We know that more programs have been lost to budget problems in the ensuing years. We know that more will be lost if schools are not held to a high standard that requires proficiency in those programs.  This is the time to ensure those high standards for every student!

 

·        In passing the Maine Learning Results, the Maine Legislature confirmed the importance of all 8 content areas. We need to ensure that graduation requirements ensure proficiency in all content areas equally.

 

Student Voice and Choice was never intended to be voice and choice of WHAT they are to learn, but rather how and process of learning essential academic content.

 

·        “The 21st Century world of work consists primarily of knowledge industries that value innovative approaches to work, establishment of new standards, and production of creative products and services.” (Shirley Brice Heath and Sir Ken Robinson) Maine students need the type of education provided in arts classrooms to be fully prepared for that kind of work.

 

·       The content areas in which students are required to “fully meet” proficiency are the content areas that will receive full attention in schools’ budgets and students’ schedules. If Maine students are to be prepared “for work, for higher education, for citizenship, and for personal fulfillment”* in the 21st Century, Maine can not afford to insist on only partial expectations for all students in the arts. (*quoted from the introduction to the MLRs)

This is a critical moment in all our future’s!  Let’s use our positive, collective voice to stand up, together, for the Arts and Arts Education!

 

Image credit: The logo at the top of this blog entry came from the Greater Cincinnati Alliance for Arts Education.
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