A proposal to bring new emphasis to the fine arts in public schools faces skepticism at the state Capitol.

The head of the Missouri Alliance for Arts and Education says her group offers professional development sessions for Missouri teachers every year and offers money for school fine arts programs. But Deborah Fisher says few teachers attend the seminars and schools don’t even apply for tens of thousands of dollars a year from the Missouri Arts Council despite the value of fine arts programs.

“Schools that have a high ratio of student participation in the arts have better graduation rates, better attendance, fewer discipline referrals, and better scores on the mathematics and communications arts tests,’ she says.
Senator David Pearce of Warrensburg wants a law requiring a fine arts professional to be in each of the 11 of the state’s regional professional teacher development centers because fine arts are being pushed aside. “There are no tests for the arts, and so what is happening in a lot of our curriculum is that you teach to the tests and what gets measured gets taught. So in many districts arts are kind of getting pushed to the back,” he tells the committee.

The committee member wonders, however, if the proposal has much value if local administrators don’t support fine arts programs, or, as he puts it, view fine arts as something less than education.

Senate Committee Hearing 33:58 mp3