Florida Senate would add arts to school grading system
The Florida Senate Pre-K-12 Education Committee has unanimously passed a bill that would give schools bonus points in the state's grading system if they increase participation in the fine arts.
The panel acted against the recommendation of Patricia Levesque, who heads Jeb Bush's education foundations.
Sen. Nancy Detert, the bill's sponsor, urged approval of the measure, saying that studies have shown across the board that students' achievement in math and science improves if they take music, art, dance or theater courses. "When times get tough, the things that cut cut are arts and music," said Detert, R-Sarasota.
Perhaps giving schools extra points for participation will get them to maintain arts programs, she suggested.
When the time for the public to weigh in came, committee chairman Sen. Steve Wise said he'd like everyone to "waive in support, " as "I think this is going to pass."
The first speaker waived. Then Levesque rose to comment.
She said the foundation opposed the legislation, not because it doesn't support arts in education, but because it would degrade the grading process. Using participation rates as part of school grading would move away from the focus on outcomes and performance, she said, which could lessen the quality of the grades.
She urged members to vote against the bill.
Usually, the senators -- especially the Republicans -- go along with Levesque's recommendations. Not on this one. An identical bill in the House has yet to be heard.