On January 29, teachers and others joined together on Fine Arts Advocacy Day on the Hill in Des Moines, Iowa, to advocate for inclusion of the fine arts in Iowa’s Core curriculum.
“We hosted a luncheon, and had enough advocates from all the arts organizations to contact each of the legislators in both houses,” reported Martha Kroese, president of the Iowa Music Educators Association. “We presented them with a packet of information about adding Fine Arts to the Iowa Core, as well as a booklet of testimonials from Iowans, who wrote about the effect that Fine Arts education had on their lives.”
In addition, renowned international opera singer Simon Estes, an Iowa native, sang for the opening of the Iowa House and Senate and took time to speak with the members as well. Incorporating fine arts standards is “something that will be great for the state of Iowa, great for our young people, great for education and great for our people who have talents,” Estes told the Des Moines Register.
As the emphasis on testing has resulted in funding cuts for arts and music education, advocates are now calling for state standards for fine arts education. If Nebraska approves fine arts standards this year, Iowa will be the last state without standards for arts education.
Establishing standards would ensure that students have access to high-quality programs whether they attend a school with 100 students, or 1,000, Waukee High School vocal music booster president Joni Smith told the Des Moines Register. Currently, an Iowa Senate bill is under consideration to merge arts standards into Iowa’s core. “It would not mandate that schools would have to offer any particular courses,” said Sen. Herman Quirmbach, D-Ames, one of the bill’s authors. “It would simply say that if you offer these, here are the standards you should aspire to.”
“The creativity that’s developed through the arts, that’s not only going to help improve test scores, it’s also where ingenuity comes from, where persistence comes from,” Bob Kling, adjunct art professor at Simpson College, said. “Those are skills that stick for a lifetime.”
“We all left [Advocacy Day] feeling energized, and positive about our efforts,” noted Kroese. Kudos to the Iowa Music Educators Association and the rest of the Iowa Alliance for Arts Educators members for their hard work and efforts to ensure all students receive quality music and fine arts education.
“Should Fine Arts Be Included in the Iowa Core Curriculum?” Des Moines Register, 30 January 2014.
Catherina Hurlburt, Special Assistant, February 5, 2014. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)