The Rhode Island Music Education Association (RIMEA) calls on the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) and the Council of Elementary and Secondary Education (The Council) to prioritize arts education in its revision to new state graduation requirements. The Council is scheduled to discuss the secondary school regulations at their meeting on Tuesday, February 8th.
“The research is clear. The arts, as core academic subjects, have their own intrinsic value, while also resulting in a host of other advantages for K-12 students, including increased attendance, higher graduation rates, improved family involvement, and higher scores in academic areas beyond the arts,” said David Neves, R.I. Music Education Association Advocacy Co-Chair. “RIDE should not continue to imply that the arts are less than vital for all students.”
RIMEA is requesting that the proposed Revision of Secondary Graduation Requirements:1. Clearly require at least one full credit in arts coursework in high school for all students.
2. Clearly define “arts proficiency”, including specific definitions and examples of arts proficiency.
a. There is currently no specific requirement. This deficiency has resulted in some districts counting a single ½ credit arts course as evidence of proficiency. This has greatly expanded inequity in arts education for students.
3. Remove the concept of flex credits from the regulations, or specify that flex credits cannot take the place of any standalone mandated minimum academic credits. a. Taking a course in social studies that uses the arts as a subject of discussion, such as “Music -It’s Influence and Impact on Society” cannot replace an arts course. Flex credits designed by individual schools, will further erode support for meaningful arts instruction in high school.
“There is a tendency by school leaders to view the arts as not important enough to include in local regulations in the same way as other academic subjects, clearly evidenced in the secondary school requirements,” said Patricia Kammerer, R.I. Music Education Association Advocacy Co-Chair. “PreK-12 education must include a comprehensive, standards-based arts education for every child in every school. Our students deserve nothing less.”
In addition, RIMEA recommends that RIDE hire a full-time art content specialist to work with schools to ensure students are meeting the National Core Arts Standards and the RI Basic Education Plan. RIDE has content specialists in math, science, literacy, and early education, but no arts content specialist.
The Rhode Island Music Education Association (RIMEA) is the state chapter of NAfME, the National Association for Music Education. Its mission is to provide professional development, leadership, and support for the state’s music teachers to promote quality music instruction and experiences for all students in Rhode Island as part of a complete education.
By The Rhode Island Music Education Association (RIMEA