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arts education Mike Merrifield
Colorado state senator Mike Merrifield, D-Colorado Springs, speaks during a hearing last year. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
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Arts education would be a baton that measures Colorado schools under Merrifield’s bill

Colorado Legislature, Education, Opinion, Opinion, Uncategorized Comments Off 106

Sen. Mike Merrifield, D-Colorado Springs, wants to measure Colorado schools by how well they educate students about dance, theater, music and visual arts.

Senate Bill 107 received unanimous approval and no opposition in the testimony in February before the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, known as the “kill committee” by the Democratic minority, since that’s where their bills go to die.

The measure is scheduled to be debated Monday morning on the Senate floor. Merrifield is worried that the “nose to the grindstone people” in the Senate could mount an effort to kill the legislation.

Though, if the three Republicans on the Senate kill committee maintain their support and Democrats back Merrifield, it should pass, since the GOP clings to only an 18-17 majority.

“It’s not an either-or,” Merrifield said of nose-to-the-grindstone and arts.

“Arts are integral,” he continued. “We should not be narrowing the choices for children. I’m trying to create some incentive for schools not to cut back.”

The bill creates an accreditation performance indicator.

Schools are already graded on:

• Student academic growth.
• Student achievement on statewide assessments.
• Progress made in closing growth and achievement gaps,
• Postsecondary and workforce readiness.

Legislative analysts noted:

A 2014 survey of arts education in Colorado estimates that 96.7 percent of Colorado public schools offer formal arts education to their students. The report estimates that in 2014 about 28,000 students attend Colorado public school where no formal arts education is offered.

In 2016-17, public school enrollment is about 800,000 students. Assuming that the number of students attending schools without formal arts education has remained stable, about 3.5 percent
of students in Colorado public schools have limited or no options for arts education. In those schools and districts educating these students, workload and expenditures will increase to develop
art education programs and to demonstrate positive achievements toward the bill’s new metric for evaluating educational attainment.

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