School districts must comply with Proposition 28 laws and expand arts and music opportunities – Orange County Register

Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Alberto Carvalho attends a lead guitar music class at Carlos Santana Academy of the Arts in North Hills on Wednesday, August 17, 2022.

Voters passed Proposition 28 to ensure every student has the opportunity to participate in arts and music in school. About 7 million people voted for the 2022 initiative, nearly 65% ​​of the electorate, in the largest victory for an education measure in California history.

This ballot measure addresses the unfortunate fact that only one in five public schools in California has a full-time art or music teacher. It provides additional funds to each school to add art teachers and aides; school districts cannot use these new funds to replace spending on existing school programs. Art for Life, a comprehensive report from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, makes a compelling case for arts education in schools.

Unfortunately, not all students receive the arts education voters promised.

The good news is that some school districts are following the law. They are adding staff to provide more opportunities for every student in every school to participate in the arts and music. The bad news is that other school districts are deliberately violating the law and undermining the best interests of their students by using new funds to replace spending on existing programs and therefore not adding any arts teachers. This approach contradicts the entire purpose of the proposal and is not just a “budget” issue.

If one school district provides meals to students but another does not, there will be an outcry. Why not educate in the arts, especially when its benefits are well known? For example, research tells us that engaging in the arts can help students recover from trauma, build social connections, and improve attendance. The lack of this mental health support is changing the lives of some children.

Let’s compare the good schools in Long Beach to the bad schools in Los Angeles. After the law passed, Long Beach School District leadership provided schools with information about additional funding for arts education beginning in the 2023-24 school year in early 2023 (before Proposition 28 took effect). Then they started recruiting. As a result, more than 150 art teachers and assistants currently assist students in Long Beach schools.

LA United, on the other hand, seemed to be breaking the law from day one. In early 2023, the district told schools it would cut funding for many existing arts teaching jobs. If schools want to retain art teachers, they must use Proposition 28 funds. This is a clear violation of the law. The end result is that LAUSD schools have no additional art teachers.

Additionally, the Los Angeles Unified School District claims that its total arts education spending has increased, seemingly concealing a misuse of Prop. 28 funds. The Los Angeles Unified School District counts separate state funds into its overall spending figure aimed at expanding learning opportunities and helping students recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The district uses the funds for what they call Cultural Arts Passports, which are used for a variety of extracurricular activities, including trips to the San Diego Zoo and Clippers games.

We have nothing against field trips, but this is not arts education. Proposition 28 calls for 80 percent of funding to be used to hire additional art teachers and aides. Unless Kawhi Leonard earned a teaching certificate and was paid by the Los Angeles Unified School District to work in school classrooms, such an activity would not be a legitimate use of Proposition 28 funds.

The Los Angeles Unified School District said it will spend about $75 million on arts education in the 2022-34 school year and $130 million in the 2023-24 school year. In reality, all they did was shuffle the funds, illegally replacing $75 million from the previous year with Proposition 28 funds, and then adding other funds like the Cultural Arts Passport Fund to make the numbers look larger.

Are you completely confused by it all? That’s the point. The Los Angeles Unified School District is trying to distract you from the fact that the district shortchanged its students and failed to make any meaningful additions to arts education in its schools. If Long Beach adds 150 art teachers, Los Angeles Unified School District schools should have about 1,000 more. where are they?

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