Monday, September 13, 2010

Reducing the Arts Requirement For Graduation

A bill that seeks to reduce dropout rates by changing high school graduation requirements statewide has arts education advocates bristling.

Assembly Bill 2446 would allow students to pick from a myriad of arts and career technical education or vocational classes instead of requiring them to take yearlong classes in arts or a foreign language.

"We feel it's bad educational policy as it sets one education area against another," said Joe Laddon, policy director of the California Arts Education Alliance.

Approved by the Legislature, the bill is on the desk of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has until Sept. 30 to sign or veto it.

In addition to potentially eroding arts education, Laddon said he fears it would create a pool of graduating students who do not meet basic requirements for getting into the University of California and California State University systems. Both require arts and language classes.

"One of the implications of this is that it suggests a two-tier system where kids are sent in the direction of career tech at the expense of going into higher education," he said. "They will have to go back and take those courses if they want to go on to a postsecondary educational track."

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I hope no one is anchoring their argument against this on the "won't get into UC" comment. Kids who are aiming for a UC know what to do; kids who just want to complete high school, and maybe even get some useful job or life skills in the process, should have that option.

Not everyone needs to go to college.


Pomoprophet said...

thank you. not everyone SHOULD go to college either.

Anonymous said...

My son is just entering high school and really likes band. With the block schedule he will have very few elective choices. He was able to free one up by taking health online. But the 3 years of foreign language is really bothering me. I'm biased though because I had three years and still only use "como esta" and si'. I'd go with Rosetta Stone if I really wanted to speak another language. His school has so many good options we're thinking of getting out of the honors track and on the graduation track instead, then he can decide later where he wants to go with it. The problem is that he is a straight A honors student with a lot of self motivation.

maxutils said...

The problem, not clearly stated in your quote, is that UC only recognizes yearlong arts classes. If, in the interests of diversity you make more arts classes, but most only semester classes (after all, they must be paired in twos) students can try all they like, but some will not be able to get into enough yearlong classes to make the cut. I think it's a good idea, but it should be paired with UC reexamining their entrance requirements. Right now, they recognize semester long social studies classes, one of which (economics) attempts to condense a year of material into one semester.

Ellen K said...

As an art teacher, I understand both sides. We have an accellerated block, which means that since there are both fall competitions and spring competitions band, orchestra, choir and theater are double blocked. Pity the poor art students who can only fit in classes here and there around athletic programs that are also effectively double blocked. As much as I hate to say it, the end, for visual arts, is in sight. Although theater will disappear first, due to cost, visual arts will be gone from public high schools in ten years. There are those that will say good riddance, but there are kids who live for art and those are our innovators, our future designers and our architects. Granted, they can get the classes in college, but at that point many will already be pushed toward other disciplines. Believe it or not, we will lose some of our innovative edge if these kids aren't allowed to learn how to think outside the box. Art does that. But it will be gone sooner rather than later.