Legislative alert: Senate bills 600 and 601 – action needed

Last spring, we sent out an alert regarding two bills introduced in the Michigan House of Representatives, HB 4269 and 4270. MMEA was worried about the problematic impacts on music programs in the state of Michigan, as these bills aimed to eliminate the 1 credit arts graduation requirement. I wrote about those specific bills here. Now there is a similar effort to eliminate the arts requirement in the Michigan Senate with SB 600 and 601. Here’s the gist:
1)      Currently, Michigan high school students must pass take credits across different areas as part of the Michigan Merit Curriculum. Since 2006, all Michigan students have been required to take 1 credit in the visual, performing, or applied arts. Additionally, students (beginning with the class of 2016) must take 2 credits of a foreign language. Note: individual districts may require additional credits, but the Michigan Merit Curriculum provides minimum numbers. One major sticking point that has surfaced is in regard to Algebra II-a requirement in the MMC that some feel is irrelevant.
2)      The new senate bills, introduced by Sen. Bumstead (R-Newaygo) would target the Algebra II issue but also do away with many requirements in the Michigan Merit Curriculum, eliminating requirements for students to complete one credit of physical education and health, one credit of visual, performing, or applied arts, and two credits of world languages. Instead, districts would have the ability to locally determine those four credit requirements.
MMEA believes the bills may lead to lowered music program enrollment and/or to high schools deciding not to offer arts courses at all. This concern is also mentioned in the non-partisan legislative analysis. Numerous schools in Michigan already lack music programs, and we believe that too much flexibility in the high school curriculum would invite schools to specialize away from a well-rounded curriculum in favor of career/technology training.
Please consider calling your state senator AND representatives from the Senate Education and Career Readiness Committee.Tell them that:
“Michigan should value arts education by keeping the 1 credit arts graduation requirement.”

Questions? Email Ryan Shaw, MMEA’s Government Relations Coordinator at rshaw@msu.edu