Teachers Fear Lawmakers will Restrict Curriculum

Teachers Fear Lawmakers will Restrict Curriculum

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PROVO, Utah (AP) -- Some teachers fear legislators are moving toward restricting education to a few core subjects and shutting out others, such as music, art and sports.

David Fullmer, president of the Utah Music Educators Association and band director at Timpview High School, has scheduled a meeting of educators next Tuesday at his high school to discuss the issue.

"They (legislators) are looking at all of the subjects offered and looking at what the must-have subjects are versus what the ones that are nice to have are," he said.

Fullmer said in his e-mail invitations to the meeting that some discussions in legislative committees "have suggested redefining public education to include only language arts, mathematics and science."

Fullmer said he does not believe there is widespread support at this point in the Legislature for eliminating extracurricular activities and added that he's not trying to create trouble.

"We're just trying to make a statement and trying to communicate with people, let them know that this is an issue and it's being discussed," he said.

Rep. Jim Ferrin, R-Orem, said the concerns may have grown from the work of and education committee that he serves on and that is seeking proposals on what the core curriculum of public schools should be.

"At some point, given our tight resources, we've got to define what the state will pay for," Ferrin said. "And maybe we've come to the point that we cannot pay for anything and everything that someone might think is useful."

Ferrin said, "I would not myself define music education or a lot of art education as extracurricular. I think that's core."

However, Ferrin said he would classify various other subjects such as wood shop, food preparation classes and some language courses as extracurricular, while others may define them as core subjects.

"We cannot do everything that everyone wants to do and do it all well," Ferrin said. "And so it's appropriate for policy makers to ask the question of ourselves and of the public and of the education community: What matters most?"

Patrick Ogden, associate superintendent at the Utah State Office of Education, said concerns also may have risen from the office of education's proposal to focus on "competency-based education" for students.

He said some wrongly have interpreted it as reducing the number of electives.

"I think this affords public education a good opportunity to inform the public and others about what is taught in public schools and why it's taught and to make its case for these noncore classes," Ogden said.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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