Thursday, March 28, 2013

Arts education bill passes House committee

Posted By on Thu, Mar 28, 2013 at 5:12 PM

Paul Leopoulos, director of the THEA Foundation, and state Rep. James McLean, chair of the House Education Committee, made a successful pitch today before the committee to give a do pass to HB1689 to create a pilot program in 15 schools to test the efficacy of the Arkansas A+ arts-infused education model.

Here's KTHV coverage of the hearing.

McLean told the panel that he would fight to get the pilot program, which would last five years, funded out of General Improvement Fund surplus. "My job," McLean told the committee, which he chairs, is to go and make the case to the governor, to the pro tem and the speaker that this is something that is worthy."

Rankin said his mother-in-law has been a fellow with Arkansas A+, which THEA Foundation has been promoting for several years in schools around the state. (I wrote about Arkansas A+ achievements in January.) He told the committee that "without question it adds value to the teaching experience and adds value to the schools."

There were two or three legislators who were having trouble with the concept of the model, which shows teachers ways to teach the core curriculum to students who learn in a variety of ways using the arts. Leopoulos even sang the ABCs (though not the whole alphabet) as an example of how music helps us learn. State Rep. Debra Hobbs, R-Rogers, seemed to say it was the job of the state's charter schools to implement arts-infused education. (Perhaps she was confusing Arkansas A+ with A+ Arkansas, which is a charter school movement); Rep. Ann Clemmer, R-Benton, said there were other arts programs in her district that would like funding as well.

Arkansas A+ is being used by teachers in 12 schools now; McLean wants the state to provide grants to 15 schools who apply to be trained in the A+ model.

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