State Board rule eliminates art, music, health requirements
At the request of the UEA and other organizations, the Utah State Board of Education held a public hearing Sept. 20 on Administrative Rule R277-700 The Elementary and Secondary School General Core. This controversial rule, passed by the Board in August 2017, lowers the standards in middle schools by eliminating art, music, PE and health as required classes. It also eliminates credit units for grades 7 and 8, requiring only course “mastery,” which is undefined in the rule.
Dozens of educators, parents and students attended the Sept. 20 public hearing to speak about the rule.
Next Steps: Contact Your School Board Member!
The fight to save the middle school art, music, health and PE credits isn't over. Although the rule has already passed the Board, there is still opportunity to change or delay it. At its next Board meeting on Oct. 12, the Board could call for action to revisit the rule based on comments made at the public hearing.
Email or call your State Board representative before October 12: https://www.schools.utah.gov/board/utah/members
If you live in the districts of one of the nine who voted “yes” on this rule, please encourage them to change their vote at the October board meeting. These board members are: Teryl Warner, Linda Hansen, Laura Belnap, Joel Wright, Alisa Ellis, Scott Neilson, Mark Huntsman, Michelle Boulter and Lisa Cummins.
If you live in the district of one of the six board members who voted “no” on this rule, let them know you support their vote: Janet Cannon, Brittney Cummins, Jennifer Graviet, Carol Lear, Kathleen Riebe and Spencer Stokes.
Administrative Rule R277-700 passed August 4 with Board members Belnap, Boulter, L. Cummins, Ellis, Hansen, Huntsman, Neilson, Warner and Wright in favor, and Members Cannon, B. Cummins, Graviet, Lear, Riebe and Stokes opposed. The rule eliminates references to “credit units” and only requires students to complete courses (e.g.: Grade 7 Language Arts). It also limits required courses to English, math, science, US history and Utah history. Districts and charter schools could opt to make all other courses elective, including arts, music, PE, health, college and career awareness, digital literacy and world languages. While these rule changes currently only apply to grades 7 and 8, the general concept of “competency-based learning” with similar rules is being considered by the Board at all grade levels.
After studying the proposed rule, the UEA is very apprehensive about the negative impact these rule changes could have on students. UEA President Heidi Matthews outlined specific concerns in a letter submitted to the Board prior to the vote.
“I believe the Board has failed to articulate how this change is good for students, especially our most vulnerable students,” said Matthews. “They have also not addressed the fact that there is already a pilot program in place to study and make recommendations on this issue. To pass a rule prior to seeing results of the pilot is just plain backwards.”