Charles Combs

endorsed 2014-03-09 15:12:33 -0400

Arts For All Letter of Support

GOAL: 200

Support one year of high school arts education as an admission requirement to the Massachusetts state university system

Dear Carlos Santiago, Commissioner of Higher Education and Mitchell Chester, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education,

Due to education reform efforts of the past 20 years, Massachusetts public schools have been required to shift focus to the “tested” subjects of reading, math, and science. This emphasis often pushes arts education to a secondary status in our students’ schooling.

Arts education — dance, media arts, music, theatre/drama, visual arts — is a necessary component for the development of the “whole child,” enabling each individual to become a productive, creative, and innovative member of society. Access and engagement in high quality, sequential arts education is essential to developing important 21st-century skills and will allow our Commonwealth to regain and maintain a competitive economic edge globally by exporting creative ideas and products.

While some districts have rich, sequential, and regular arts learning in every grade, others have limited or no arts learning. This is the case despite the designation of the arts as a core academic subject in the 1993 Massachusetts Education Reform Act’s “Common Core of Learning”. Additionally, one year of arts education is the only designation in the “Common Core of Learning” not required for admission into the state university system.

The ARTS For All Initiative would establish one year of arts education in high school as an admission requirement to the Massachusetts state university system, including UMASS. Inclusion of the arts in the criteria will encourage more students to take arts education and help make certain all students in the Commonwealth have access to the arts regardless of geographic location, ethnicity, economic level, or any other demographic status or condition.

The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education should follow the lead of ten other states and require incoming university students to take at least one year of visual or performing arts, music, or dance.

Thank you for your consideration. 


Charles Combs

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