School Board Petition

School Board Petition: Bring back the Middle School Arts, Health, and PE Credit Requirement

To: Members of the Utah State Board of Education
From: Utah Cultural Alliance, Utah Education Association, Utah Music Teachers Association, and the following signers

We are parents, voters, and Utahns who care about the success of our state’s children. We know that a well-rounded education is vital to their future.

As your constituents, we ask you to reverse your August 4th decision to remove the Middle School credit requirement for health, arts, physical education, college and career awareness, world languages, and digital literacy.

The benefits to children of a well-rounded education that includes arts, health, and PE education are many:

  1. Better academic results, better workforce opportunities, and more civic engagement, especially for at-risk children. (1)
  2. Improved performance and grades in reading, math, writing, and other subjects. (2)
  3. Increased creative thinking and problem solving. (3)
  4. Increased positive attitudes towards school and learning. (4)
  5. Less aggression and violent tendencies. (5)
  6. Improved cognitive ability. (6)
  7. Improved community cohesion. (7)
  8. Improved graduation rates. (8)
  9. Improved motor skills and self-discipline. (9)
  10. Improved social interaction. (10)
  11. Improved mental health and dietary choices. (11)

Eliminating the credit requirement for arts, health, physical education, college and career awareness, world languages, and digital literacy suggests that state standards and oversight for these vital programs could disappear. These are subject areas that are proven to close the school achievement gap. Lack of standards and oversight prevents fair and equitable services statewide, and puts at risk our State’s commitment to ensure that a healthy and productive generation is ready to lead our future.

We thank the six board members who voted against this change: Janet Cannon, Brittney Cummins, Jennifer Graviet, Carol Barlow-Lear, Kathleen Riebe, and Spencer Stokes.

Utah is a wonderful place to live, work, and raise families. We believe that our state public education system should be a light to the rest of America and the world. When policy changes occur that negatively affect children’s education -- such as this credit change -- our state educational system suffers, and our children suffer. We ask you to reverse your August 4th decision.


The board and staff of the Utah Cultural Alliance, Utah Education Association, Utah Music Teachers Association, and the undersigned.



  2. A 2002 report by the Arts Education Partnership revealed that schoolchildren exposed to drama, music and dance are often more proficient at reading, writing, and math. & The 2006 Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum study on art education showed a link between arts education and improved literacy skills. & A 2011 study called “Reinvesting in Arts Education” found that integrating arts with other subjects can help raise achievement levels. & Active Education: Physical Education, Physical Activity and Academic Performance. & An Evaluation of the Relationship between Academic Performance and Physical Fitness Measures in California Schools

  3. A study ( of more than 2,000 middle-school students by researchers at Columbia University found that students who had participated in at least three years of in-school arts instruction scored significantly higher on an instrument measuring creative thinking and that these students self- reported much higher rates of positive attitudes towards school and learning than did their peers who had experienced less arts education.

  4. Same study as 1.
  5. Evaluation of a six-month program that involved youth in drama reported that these participants demonstrated less aggressive and violent tendencies, while also exhibiting more pro-social behaviors like cooperation and self control compared to before participating. & A study of Missouri public schools in 2010 found that greater arts education led to fewer disciplinary infractions and higher attendance, graduation rates and test scores.

  6. A study by research kinesiologists found that students showed improved cognitive ability after participating in moderate exercise. & A meta-analysis that took into account 44 studies that had sought to identify correlations & between physical activity among children and their cognitive performance concluded that there is a significant relationship. & The Association Between School-Based Physical Activity, Including Physical Education, and Academic Performance

  7. A 2005 report by the Rand Corporation called “A Portrait of the Visual Arts” argues that art education does more than just give students a creative outlet. It can actually help connect them to the larger world, ultimately improving community cohesion.

  8. The Center for Arts Education published a report in 2009 that suggests arts education may improve graduation rates.

  9. & Physical Education in Kindergarten Promotes Fundamental Motor Skill Development


  11. Do the Duration and Frequency of Physical Education Predict Academic Achievement, Self-concept, Social skills, Food consumption, and Body Mass Index?



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Showing 3963 reactions

  • signed 2017-11-14 07:00:53 -0700
    Elizabeth Weight: When I was growing up in Utah, music and art education in schools was an element of state pride. Utahns educated the “whole child,” and, as a result, Utah is noted for its talent and its attendance rates at art events of all types. When people learn about and have guided practice in any art form, they understand, appreciate, and value that art, regardless of their individual talent or pursuits. Lives are enriched and economies are stronger with community events around performance and visual arts, even in our smallest communities. Art is part of our Utah culture, specifically and intentionally established throughout our history.

    However, the arguments around “return on investment” and the immeasurable character qualities that are part of our state identity are not the only reason for supporting music and arts to the degree we have traditionally. Studies have shown and continue to portray the degree and manner in which our students learn more and better when art education is part of their school experience. Human brains function differently and develop natural learning abilities that influence learning in other content areas. It turns out that requirements to learn about and practice any art form creates a more able society in all other areas of learning, as well as building community.

    Removing requirements in the areas prescribed in the August 4 decision may seem beneficial for some students’ focus in areas of their choice, but it will result in damage to learning, community, and even economic development. I urge the reversal of the decision.
  • signed via 2017-11-08 22:26:15 -0700
    Children NEED the arts. They understand academic better when they have arts training. It is essential to their understanding of relationships between subjects and their details. Arts help their spacial reasoning which impacts their mathematical reasoning abilities. The arts teach children to problem solve and make the most of a mistake. PE helps children’s brains function better. The health and other subjects are important too. Children need a well rounded education.
  • signed 2017-11-05 18:48:02 -0700
  • signed 2017-11-03 10:41:37 -0600
    Kelli Brown
  • signed 2017-10-28 19:05:37 -0600
    In reality, most parents do not formally discuss with their children the topics taught in health class. Some parents are not qualified to talk on such subjects either. Please leave this vital role to the educators within our state to give accurate information to our public school students.
  • signed 2017-10-28 19:05:37 -0600
    In reality, most parents do not formally discuss with their children the topics taught in health class. Some parents are not qualified to talk on such subjects either. Please leave this vital role to the educators within our state to give accurate information to our public school students.
  • signed 2017-10-25 12:56:22 -0600
  • signed via 2017-10-23 08:09:56 -0600
  • signed 2017-10-18 11:10:09 -0600
  • signed 2017-10-17 06:36:03 -0600
  • signed 2017-10-11 10:48:10 -0600
  • signed 2017-10-09 21:02:21 -0600
  • signed via 2017-10-09 16:04:44 -0600
  • signed 2017-10-09 15:41:46 -0600
  • signed 2017-10-09 14:26:13 -0600
    Thomas A Eads
  • signed 2017-10-09 13:50:22 -0600
  • signed 2017-10-09 13:24:29 -0600
  • signed 2017-10-09 11:32:11 -0600
  • signed 2017-10-09 11:20:53 -0600
  • signed 2017-10-07 21:32:34 -0600
  • signed 2017-10-07 18:07:17 -0600
  • signed via 2017-10-06 12:13:37 -0600
    When we lived in north canton Ohio 20 years ago they had PE offered in summer school. Utah’s schools should try this out.
  • signed 2017-10-06 12:03:32 -0600
  • signed 2017-10-06 10:19:55 -0600
  • posted about this on Facebook 2017-10-06 07:02:21 -0600
    Sign the petition: UT State Board of Education, bring back the Middle School arts, health, & PE credit requirements!
  • signed 2017-10-06 06:54:56 -0600
    I feel that PE and Health have always been very important classes. We are seeing more children suffering from obesity than ever before. We have a higher teen suicide rate, more problems with drugs, social media bullying and an overall inability for young people to cope with daily disappointments and lack of basic life skills and peer communication. We should not be taking away or making classes that can help young people with the knowledge, skills and resources to help them grow and develop in ways to combat these problem areas an elective or eliminate them completely. Let’s be proactive and keep these classes in as mandatory in our schools. I have two daughters who have degrees in health and PE and are currently teaching. My daughter who is a teacher at a junior high has seen immeasurable benefits after just a couple of months of observing the growth of her students in the health class she is teaching. Many of the life coping topics covered are not being addressed in any other class. Also, it has been proven that PE can actually help students stay more focused on their other classes because it gives them a chance to focus on physical activity during the day instead of just sitting in class all day. Our bodies were meant to move—not remain sedentary. Please make a decision that will truly be in the best interest of our children!
  • signed 2017-10-05 22:57:14 -0600
    I never thought I’d see the day this would happen in Utah – a place that has always had a rich heritage in the arts.

    As a former music educator in this state, I am saddened by the decision the board has made. I have seen first hand the benefits of this curriculum in students’ lives. I have seen the faces of students light up as they hear and feel what music brings into their lives. I have seen them push themselves harder in their academic classes because they have realized what success feels like in an area they love. I have heard them say how the arts are a respite from their day. I have seen them develop friendships, social skills, focus, hard work, attention to detail, teamwork, creativity, determination, emotional skills, communication skills, dependability, the ability to transfer knowledge between different areas of their lives and apply it, etc. My list could go on and on.

    The research shows the health, emotional, and academic benefits of a well- rounded education. You say that these classes won’t go away – just the requirement for taking them, but it won’t be too long before they disappear completely without reason to maintain or uphold standards.

    Too many kids have found their niche by taking some of these classes simply as a “requirement”. The arts are the only reason why many students stay in school at all.

    I have focused my thoughts on the arts because that is my area of expertise, however, other cases have been made for the health and emotional benefits of the other curriculum requirements being removed as well. I have seen first-hand the benefits of those classes as well.

    Please, please reconsider your decision. If left as is, it will only hurt students’ in the long run. We will see the statistics of emotional challenges, behavioral issues, drop-out rates, only climb. This decision will be the cause of much regret, and it will be very difficult to reimplement the requirements and rebuild programs in the future. Keep it now while things are strong.
  • signed 2017-10-05 22:12:51 -0600
    Don’t mess with success. Creativity, music and physical exercise is part of the human core of wellness. Take them away and the world will be a darker place. Save these essentials- save the children. Save Society.
  • signed 2017-10-05 18:30:59 -0600
  • signed via 2017-10-05 18:16:32 -0600
    Gwen Saltern