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State Board votes to delay implementation of rule eliminating arts, music, health and PE requirements

10/16/2017

“Great news…our collective voices made a difference,” wrote UEA President Heidi Matthews in a letter to UEA leaders shortly after the State Board of Education referred Administrative Rule R277-700 The Elementary and Secondary School General Core back to committee for further review during its Oct. 12 meeting. “This is truly something to celebrate. Our members showed up in droves to ask for this reconsideration.”

Originally passed by the State Board on August 4, the rule created grave concerns for several organizations, including the UEA, which requested and received a hearing on Sept. 20. Dozens showed up to testify against the proposed changes during a meeting that lasted more than three hours.

As a result of comments made during the hearing, the Board voted at its Oct. 12 meeting to delay implementation of the rule and refer it for further study. Board members Terryl Warner*, Spencer Stokes, Linda Hansen*, Jennifer Graviet, Laura Belnap*, Brittney Cummins, Carol Barlow-Lear, Janet Cannon, Kathleen Riebe, Lisa Cummins*, Scott Nielson* and Mark Huntsman* voted to delay (*indicates Board members who changed a vote of support for R277-700 on Aug. 4 to a vote to ‘delay implementation and refer to committee’ on Oct. 12). Board members Joel Wright, Alisa Ellis and Michelle Boulter voted against delaying rule implementation.

About R277-700

Administrative Rule R277-700 The Elementary and Secondary School General Core would eliminate references to “credit units” and only require students to complete courses (e.g.: Grade 7 Language Arts). It also limits required courses to English, math, science, US history and Utah history, allowing districts and charter schools the option 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.

Next Steps: Contact Your Board Members!

The fight to save the middle school art, music, health and PE credits isn't over. Although the rule has been delayed, it is still being discussed. Continue to reach out to your school board representative and ask them to keep arts, health, and PE as core requirements of a well-rounded education. If your school board representative serves on the Standards and Assessment Committee, please especially make an effort to reach out to them before the committee meets again on Nov. 3. Those Board members areLaura BelnapLisa Cummins, Jennifer GravietSpencer Stokes and Teryl Warner.

Background

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.

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.

UEA’s Position

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.”

 


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