The Iowa Senate this week voted to establish a nine-member task force to recommend standards for “fine arts” education in K-through-12 schools.
“What this is really, as much as anything, is a recognition of the importance of teaching of music and art and drama and the work of the music and art and drama teachers across this state,” said Senator Herman Quirmbach, a Democrat from Ames who is chairman of the Senate Education Committee.
Advocates of fine arts education argue the emphasis on math and science classes, plus budget constraints, are leading schools to reduce and even cancel arts and music courses.
“Wc’ve had a lot of discussion, a lot of emphasis the past couple of years on STEM subject — Science, Technology, Engineering and Math — and clearly those are vitally important…but that’s not the education fo the whole human being,” Quirmbach said. “The education of people with regard to the fine arts and developing their abilities to express themself through art and through music and through drama, that’s a very important part of the total human being that we’re talking about here.”
Quirmbach anticipates the task force would come up with the appropriate standards for teaching fine arts.
“To all of the kids who are learning to draw and to paint and do sculpture in their classes in grade school and middle school and high school, to all of the ‘little angels’ who sing in the school choir, to all of the kids who practice their band instruments at home and to the long-suffering parents who, like my own, put up with quite a few years of untalented practice before any degree of skill was achieved, this is really about giving them the recognition and reinforcing the importance of what they’re doing,” Quirmbach said.
The bill passed the Senate this week on a 42-7 vote. The chairman of the House Education Committee says it is likely to pass that panel by next Friday, so it will remain eligible for consideration by legislators this year. If the House votes for the bill and the governor approves of it, too, the task force would be required to submit a report to legislators and the governor by January 15th of next year.