Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Action Alert

It is time to Mobilize

Georgia is experiencing a systematic dismantling of arts education in our public schools.

Currently, Georgia high school students have a choice to make in fulfilling their requirements for graduation. They may choose one unit of fine arts or one unit of computer technology.

Now, Georgia’s Superintendent of Schools, Kathy Cox, is recommending that the fine arts option be eliminated from this choice.

This means students who choose to take visual arts … or music … or drama … or dance … will not be able to count their choice toward graduation. If approved, the implications for this action are profound.

Omitting fine arts graduation requirements will be detrimental to student choice and opportunity. It will also be devastating to fine arts programs across the state.

As school boards and administrators seek to fill positions and balance budgets, the fine arts are always an easy target for cuts. If the Department of Education (DOE) does not identify a unit of Fine Arts as an option for meeting graduation requirements, many arts programs will disappear from our public schools, simply because they don't fulfill the state's new basic curriculum.

Other factors point to a serious erosion of support for arts education in Georgia.

Within the last few years, the Georgia DOE has eliminated the position of arts specialist in its offices. This loss of a position (and supporting staff) silenced the voice for the arts at the state level. As a result, many counties now have few, if any, fine arts specialists.

Additionally, the new Georgia Performance Standards released last year by the DOE do not include a visual arts curriculum – despite the fact that the fine arts are listed as a specific core academic subject under the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act.

The Georgia Department of Education has a responsibility to provide the best possible education for all the students in our state. We as parents, educators, concerned residents, business leaders and voters also have a responsibility to the students of Georgia. We are the ones who elect these policy makers and now we must raise our collective voice in support of the arts and arts education. It is regrettable that we must advocate so hard just to maintain the most minimal national standards for arts education.

Other states are moving forward to broaden arts education offerings for their students. That's because research shows that the arts enhance student performance. Read recent Wall Street Journal column on the topic ( www.allga.org)

Please join us in supporting the eligibility of fine arts as a graduation requirement option for Georgia’s public high school students.
In two minutes and four easy action steps, you can do the following:

1. Contact key decision makers and tell them how you feel about arts education. Write an email or letter in your own words and based on your own experiences (we ask that you share a copy of your correspondence with us so that we can quantify our collective response. Each and every contact will be important in making our case). Just click on the blue email address to send your email.

• Georgia State School Board Members ( attached and also on www.allga.org)
• Contact Governor Sonny Perdue - Hannah Heck hheck@gov.state.ga.us
• Contact Lt. Governor Casey Cagle - Irene Munn irene.munn@lt.gov.ga.gov
• Contact Dean Alford, Chairman - IE2 – Governor’s Task Force – Investing in Educational Excellence - deanalford@alliedutility.com
• The official email address for input on the Graduation Rule it is: mailto:policy@doe.k12.ga.us
• Copy ALL-GA – jan@allga.org

2. Please share this Web page with your friends, family, neighbors, colleagues, civic associations, church members, and parents. We must have an overwhelming, broad-based grass-roots response. Please forward to those you know have an interest in quality education. ( this is easy)

3. Attend the public meeting of the State Board of Education scheduled for September 12.
The meeting will be held at Georgia Department of Education, State Board Room, 20th Floor - East Tower, 205 Jesse Hill Jr. Drive SE, Atlanta, GA 30334 ( this meeting date could change please check for updates in the schedule at: http://public.doe.k12.ga.us/pea_policy.aspx?PageReq=GradRules2

All of the above information and more, including the current Graduation Rules and the new proposed Graduation rules are on our website: www.allga.org.

We thank you in advance for taking the time to let our leaders know how important the arts are to providing Georgia students with a well-rounded education.



Jan Selman
Executive Director

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