Reps. Ciresi, James Advocate Dance Certification Changes

HARRISBURG PA – Dance teachers in Pennsylvania would receive “a direct path” for certification of their teaching credentials under a law proposed this week by two state representatives.

Pottstown area state Rep. Joe Ciresi of the 146th House District, and Rep. R. Lee James of Venango, in the 64th District, on Wednesday (June 15, 2022) said the existing certification process for dance teachers has been criticized for several problems they believe can be resolved with legislative changes.

Under current regulations, they said dance teachers cannot be directly certified in dance. Instead, they’re certified in communications, or physical or vocational education. The array of choices “create undue confusion, promote work-arounds, and make it unreasonably difficult” for dance educators to pursue certification in Pennsylvania, Ciresi and James suggested.

Additionally, they said the state dance teachers’ certification lacks “any dance-specific content.” Ciresi and James contend the state Department of Education should require “discipline-specific education in dance for new dance teachers, just as we do for instructors in music, visual art, math and science.”

Modernizing dance teacher certification would benefit thousands of Pennsylvania students served each year by dance programs in K-12 schools, they added. It would ensure “quality instruction for a discipline already identified as one of four required arts disciplines under the Pennsylvania State Standards for Arts and Humanities.”

The representatives said the Pennsylvania Dance Education Organization supports the proposal. Its 2019 needs assessment for dance teacher certification showed both sufficient demand from school districts, and capacity for teacher training at educational institutions within the state, to make direct certification desirable.

“Dance education is beneficial on several levels, including personal fitness, stress relief, and concentration … and it’s just plain fun,” James observed. “This legislation would help get our qualified instructors into classrooms and dance studios in our state, and fulfill a need (that) has grown over time. We hope for quick passage through the legislature and the governor’s office.”

Their proposal, House Bill 2678, has been referred to the House Education Committee.

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