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I would like to thank you for allowing me the opportunity to speak with you
this afternoon. My name is Bonnie Rushlow and I am the Fine Arts
Coordinator for the School District of Oconee County.
The recent report submitted to Governor Beasley by the PASS Commission
emphasizes the need for standardized testing in four (4) CORE subject areas
at every grade level. There is no question that schools must be held
accountable for student achievement, and that incompetent administrators
and teachers cannot be tolerated. However, my concern deals with the
commission's decision to include ONLY math, science, language arts, and
social studies as core subject areas-especially since both our state and
national education goals already recognize the arts, foreign language, and
physical education as core curriculum subjects.
Last week, I attended an outstanding conference on "Brain Research"
sponsored by the State Department of Education. This research-based
conference reminded us that the inclusion of the arts and foreign language
in the early stages of life are crucial to brain development. Schools all
over the nation are being "saved" by the adoption of arts-integrated
curriculum. Not only does the research indicate that "at risk" students in
schools with quality arts programs are scoring higher on the S.A.T., but
they also are finding increases in attendance and decreases in the drop-out
rate. These are exactly the attributes that the PASS Commission members
are seeking for the children of South Carolina.
As you probably know, South Carolina is recognized nationally as a leader
in arts education reform. As the Southeastern Vice President-Elect for the
National Art Education Association, I have been extremely proud of our
state's leadership role in such initiatives as the Arts in Basic Curriculum
Project and Target 2000 legislation. The South Carolina Visual &
Performing Arts Framework was the first of the SC frameworks to be
completed and academic achievement standards for the arts are currently
My fear is that a back-to-basics approach by the PASS Commission will
encourage a narrowing of the curriculum, diminishing the important role of
the arts, foreign language, and physical education in the development of
the total child. After all, as the saying goes, "What we test is what we
value." School boards and administrators will be inclined to fund only
those subject areas that have the greatest impact on test scores. This
will have a negative effect on the arts and other subjects not considered
CORE. I would hate for the message to be sent that the arts and foreign
language are not important components of the basic curriculum in our
I would like to thank you for the support you have given to arts education
in the past and encourage your continued leadership in preserving the arts
as an integral part of the basic education for all South Carolina children.
[Dr. Rushlow may be reached at: rushlowb or Fax: 864-638-4060]
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