This legislation wasn’t asking for much, compared to what many states have on the books. Nevertheless, it got quite the bum’s rush by the Colorado School Boards Association, in particular.
Merrifield, a retired music teacher, is chair of the House Education Committee and is serving his last term. He’s long been a critic of the shrinking amounts of time and money schools are able to devote to the arts and other parts of a well-rounded curriculum.
As Merrifield originally unveiled the bill, which he titled “Concerning Improved Workforce Development Through Increased Participation In Arts Education In Public Schools,” it would have required all schools to offer arts and made demonstrated proficiency in visual and performing arts a condition of high school graduation.
What was to be a mandate for arts education, in the end became a a mere recommendation or more precisely something that is “strongly encouraged.”
What is difficult to understand about this piece, is to what extent Mr, Merrifield was on his own or was part of a network of support. At least in the way the article tells the story, Mr. Merrifield appeared to be doing this mostly on his own.
I have come to understand, all too well, that this area of work is an area ruled most often by compromise. In the spirit of compromise, this was a win.
I have also come to view the work of creating and advancing arts education friendly policies and legislation as being the businnes of ladder buidling. Each step in the ladder, even if it doesn’t get you to the top quite yet, is indeed a step in the right direction.