Dear Senator Simitian,
I am writing to express my strong opposition to Assembly Bills 2446 and AB 35, both authored by Assemblyman Furutani. I appreciate your abstention on AB 2446 in the prior Committee vote, and urge you to take a stand and vote against both bills this time.
Here is why…
These bills should be dismissed based on one simple fact: Visual and Performing Arts, Foreign Language, and CTE are required courses of study in our state (California Education Code 51220). These subjects are deemed important enough to be required courses of study for all students; therefore, students should not be able to opt out of any of them.
Why do other required courses of study have stand alone requirements, while the Arts, Foreign Language, and CTE are expected to share one overcrowded line? Certainly the Committee can see the detrimental effect that this will have on all three subjects.
Consider this: Only 11% of California secondary schools are implementing the Visual and Performing Arts in accordance with the Education Code and Content Standards (Woodworth, et al., 2007). It’s not because they don’t want to, it’s because they can’t.
Wouldn’t it make more sense to enact legislation that would enable schools to implement the existing Education Code effectively, rather than continuing to undermine it?
AB 2446 and AB 35 are simply the wrong solution to a problem that has not been properly framed: namely, how can secondary schools provide access to high quality learning experiences that effectively prepare students for a variety of post-secondary options?
The problem is NOT that we technically can’t add more subsections to Education Code Section 51225, because we can. (I realize this has larger implications.)
The problem is NOT that students must choose between these three required courses of study, because they shouldn’t have to. (And I wonder, is that even legal?)
The problem IS that the school day and school year are too short and underfunded to provide the quality and scope of education we have already put into statute and that we know our students deserve.
We already know that without courses in both the Arts and Foreign Language, students will be ineligible to attend UC and CSU schools.
Why make this confusing for students and families? We know that our guidance system is weak. We know that some students will unwittingly opt out of college. Is the Legislature really willing to own that life-altering and expensive crack in the system?
We’re counting on you to find another solution, a better solution, hopefully the RIGHT solution. AB 2446 and AB 35 are not it.
Your very concerned constituent,
Dana Powell Russell, Ed.D.