- Associated Press - Thursday, February 19, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A bill that would add fine arts to Iowa’s mandated education curriculum for K-12 students advanced through a House panel Thursday, though several education groups expressed concern over adding another requirement for school districts.

An education subcommittee heard several remarks over the bill, which would add music, theater, visual art and other fine arts to Iowa Core, the state’s academic standards since 2008. The Iowa Core sets learning goals in literacy, mathematics, science, social studies and 21st century skills.

“Number one, it’s about not adding more mandates and number two, I think there’s a real question about how you’re going to assess this,” said Emily Piper of the Iowa Association of School Boards. “Number three, we think the best approach is to infuse it into the existing curriculum through the existing standards that we have.”

The issue has been around for several years as some education groups argue that fine arts is one of the first things on the chopping block when school districts must make budget cuts. The Iowa Alliance for Arts Education has said the legislation would help prioritize fine arts in the state.

A similar bill introduced last session advanced through the Senate but did not move through the House. Rep. Greg Forristall, R-Macedonia, is co-sponsor of the bill this year. He said he’s hopeful the bill will advance out of a full committee in his chamber.

“I don’t think that we want to mandate anything that’s going to cost a lot of money,” he said. “We just want to emphasize that we believe that the fine arts are very important.”

Gov. Terry Branstad proposed including fine arts in the state standards several years ago but the effort failed at the time. A spokesman for the governor said before the start of the session in December that Branstad remains generally supportive of the concept. Still, it remains unclear whether a divided Legislature will send a bill to the governor’s desk this session.


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