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Wichita school board tweaks fine arts credit policy

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, Feb. 24, 2014, at 9:48 p.m.
  • Updated Monday, Feb. 24, 2014, at 9:48 p.m.

Wichita high school students will continue to earn fine arts credit for classes such as journalism, photo imaging and graphic design, despite concerns voiced by some arts educators Monday.

“How many of you would approve math courses being taught by teachers that were not highly qualified to teach math? … What about science?” said Linda Morgan, co-president of the Kansas Art Education Association.

Morgan asked the Wichita school board to amend a policy that allows several career and technical education courses to fulfill the one unit of fine arts credit required for high school graduation.

Instead, the board voted 6-0 to approve minor changes to the policy, renaming classes to match course names and numbers established by the state.

Morgan urged the board to require that any fine arts class be “taught by a highly qualified arts educator,” referring to a fine arts endorsement that some – but not all – teachers have.

Sharon Martin, journalism teacher at East High, said the classes in question Monday “are not new classes – merely renamed classes – and curriculum has not changed.”

Martin said courses such as journalism and photo imaging teach fine arts skills and “provide more choices for our students.”

Also on Monday, the board approved a resolution asking the Kansas Legislature “to pass no law” changing the election cycle or nonpartisan status of local school board elections. The vote was 5-1.

Joy Eakins voted against the resolution, saying she would not oppose moving board elections to November. She said she would have preferred to take office Jan. 1 rather than July 1 because the board voted on a budget, teacher contracts and other major issues in July and August.

“You don’t get your feet wet. You get thrown into the deep end,” she said.

The rest of the board agreed with the resolution, saying school board elections could get lost amid other races in November and that they should remain nonpartisan.

Reach Suzanne Perez Tobias at 316-268-6567 or stobias@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @suzannetobias.

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