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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