Fine Arts Under Attack

Members of the Michigan legislature recently introduced a piece of legislation that, if passed, would have a devastating impact on arts education in Michigan schools.

As a part of the Michigan Merit Curriculum, high school students are required to take one credit in the arts (visual, performing or applied) to qualify for graduation.  This measure was signed into law in 2006 with overwhelming bi-partisan support.  House Bill 5463 would eliminate that requirement and instead allow students to complete three credits in any of the following “21st Century Skills”:

  • A language other than English
  • Visual, performing, or applied arts
  • Computer science or computer coding, or a combination of the two
  • A Michigan Department of Education (MDE)-approved formal career and technical education program

HB 5463 was initially introduced as a bill that would simply add computer coding as an allowable method to complete the language requirement.  During a House Workforce & Development Committee meeting, a substitute H-1 was offered which transformed the bill from one minor change to the Merit Curriculum requirements to a sweeping rewrite.  The H-1 substitute was approved by the Committee and sent to the full House by a vote of 14-0.  HB 5463 recently passed in the House, and is now on to the Senate for their consideration.  We will get you the new Senate Bill number as soon as it becomes available.
MMEA certainly does not oppose providing Michigan students with quality language, computer & technical courses…but such opportunities should not come at the expense of arts education.  Arts courses help students learn to think creatively, enrich their lives & contribute to the education of the WHOLE student.  Considering the growing number Michigan jobs available in the creative industries now and in the future, arts education is essential to ensuring that our students have the knowledge and skills necessary to fill these positions and help a thriving economic sector continue to grow and prosper.  For more information on the impact of the arts on Michigan’s economy, please click here.

You can view a copy of House Bill 5463 (H-1) here and a summary of the legislation here.
Contact your Michigan State SENATOR today and urge them oppose House Bill 5463 in its current form.  This legislation could move at any moment so time is of the essence.  Ask your lawmaker to restore the one credit fine arts requirement in the Michigan Merit Curriculum.  CLICK HERE to find your local Representative.  CLICK HERE to find your local Senator.  A sample letter can also be found below.  Simply fill in the blanks and put it in the mail–it’s that easy.

Sample Legislative Letter, Fine Arts Credit 2016
MMEA will continue working to keep this bill from undermining arts education in Michigan, and will keep you informed of any further developments.  Thank you for your continued dedication to music education in Michigan, and your commitment to our common goal of increasing access to quality music education for all Michigan students.

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