First-year elementary school teachers must take a “generalist” exam to be in compliance with federal standards. The Texas Education Agency has successfully fought for a waiver that would exempt fine-arts teachers from the test.
While I certainly realize the time and expense involved in testing as many as 30,000 new teachers statewide and understand TEA’s desire to cut that number, I feel that such an exemption is a big mistake.
Elementary school is a time when children learn about the world around them and make connections between subjects. More detailed instruction in various disciplines comes at the secondary level. With the current emphasis on testing in math, reading, science and social studies, classroom teachers find themselves working to see that basic concepts in each of these subjects are learned by their students. Time constraints make lessons with numerous “connections” difficult to achieve.
What better place to weave many subjects together than in the music or art class? I have always chosen to teach this way but have discovered than many music teachers do not, perhaps because they do not see the necessity or because they may not see the connections themselves. A test of general knowledge may help.