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Have the Arts at the elementary schools been saved?
It sounded that way. The administration thanked stakeholders for restoring funding. The teachers’ union thanked stakeholders for restoring teaching positions. However, the related arts — art, library science, music and physical education — were realigned and instructional time was reduced. What does that really mean? Students have less than half the instructional time in these classes as they did last year. So, although some of the funding and many teaching positions were saved, the basic program was not.
Each school seems to be implementing the realigned programs differently. Find out what is happening at your school. Ask your children’s teachers, their principal and your children.
What happened at the middle school level?
In the end, all programs were left as they were last year. Beverly Hills Middle School switched to block scheduling for the related arts, to match the schedule of Drexel Hill Middle School. Also, the district added a tiered model to behavior intervention at both Middle Schools, and partnered with the University of Pennsylvania to offer professional development for the middle school teachers in goal setting. At the high school level, seniors were invited to enroll in a research study, conducted by University of Pennsylvania, to assess grit and success in college placements.
Does the state have to approve to all curriculum changes?
No, Upper Darby School District is under local control. In all areas having to do with Pennsylvania School Code’s Chapter 4, which covers curriculum and instruction, the Pennsylvania Department of Education provides guidelines for best practices, but does not regulate. In our district it is the written policy of our School Board to accept the recommendations of the Superintendent.
What will happen next year?
Right now, the related arts teachers are co-teaching with the primary teachers, and enhancing the social studies and science curriculum. There is no commitment at this time to ongoing, arts-integrated, co-teaching with specialists in the related arts (art, library science, music and physical education). Please check back periodically for updates.