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New Legislation Would Decimate Arts Education in Michigan's High Schools 

The lobby behind Career and Technical Education (CTE) has continued its attack on arts education as members of the House of Representatives have introduced two additional bills that would have a negative impact on arts education in Michigan’s schools. House Bill 4073 and House Bill 4088 were introduced in an attempt to subvert and dilute the Michigan Merit Curriculum’s one credit requirement for the Visual, Performing and Applied Arts. For those counting, this makes four (HB 4072 and SB 133) attempts in less than a month to subvert and dilute the one credit requirement for the Visual, Performing and Applied Arts (VPAA) in the Michigan Merit Curriculum. While separate pieces of legislation, each bill would do the following: House Bill 4073 (Representative Ed McBroom) – would completely eliminate the one credit requirement for Visual, Performing and Applied Arts in favor of allowing more opportunities to take CTE courses.House Bill 4088 (Representative Joel Johnson) – would excuse a student who takes a year of CTE courses from taking Algebra II, taking a math class senior year, taking a third science credit and taking the one credit Visual, Performing and Applied Arts requirement. The sponsors of this legislation claim that the current high school graduation requirements are only focused on ensuring that Michigan’s students are prepared for college, instead of allowing a different type of education for those who don’t envision college in their future.  The Department of Education’s website points out that the current Michigan Merit Curriculum was put in place “to ensure Michigan's students have the skills and knowledge needed for the jobs of the 21st Century global economy…” The problem with this thinking is that there are already opportunities for high school students to take CTE courses while still completing the current Michigan Merit Curriculum. This is already done successfully in a number of districts throughout the state. Why change state law for something that’s already being done successfully without it? Further, a holistic education inclusive of the arts not only prepares one for college but for the workforce as well. Arts education helps the mind develop the creative thinking and problem solving skills needed whether you plan to attend college or enter the workforce. The sponsors of the bill need to understand that the VPAA was not included in the Michigan Merit Curriculum with the goal of training the next Picasso – that will happen on its own – it was included to ensure a holistic education for all students. While ArtServe does not oppose increased educational opportunities for Career and Technical Education for Michigan’s high school students, it should not be done at the expense of a holistic education inclusive of the arts. As we mentioned before, this legislation, and the two before it, has just been introduced and sent to the Education Committee’s in each chamber. While ArtServe will continue to work behind the scenes to fight these bills we will also be sending an action alert to those advocates residing in a district whose elected official has sponsored these bills. Known that ArtServe will continue to keep you informed as things progress. As always, if you have any questions or comments please feel free to reply to this email or call Mike Latvis directly at 248-379-5897.