As we gear up for election season, one initiative on the ballot, if passed, would make an impact on a student’s school day. The California Art and Music K-12 Education Funding Initiative is set to make it on the upcoming November ballot. For it has already surpassed the 620,000 signatures needed to guarantee its spot. The following is a breakdown of what you should know about it.
Austin Beutner, who has served as the Superintendent of Los Angeles Unified School District and CalArts Board Chair, led the charge for increasing funding for arts and music education by filing this proposed initiative in November, 2021. “This effort will make sure every child in California has a chance to participate in music and the arts, creating the foundation to help them succeed in school and in life,” expressed Beutner. Beutner is not alone in his mission as the initiative gained enormous traction, forming a coalition, following the support of educators, entrepreneurs, and art and music leaders. Supporters include Dr. Dre, Pearl Jam, Katy Perry, Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), California Arts Educators Association (CAEA), and LACMA, to name a few.
This initiative focuses on increasing funding to all public schools K-12 statewide. With an additional allocation for schools that serve low-income students to address the lack of equitable access to arts and music education. The measure would build off Proposition 98, which established minimum funding for public schools and community colleges across California. The initiative would be equivalent to 1% of the state’s existing annual investment – generating roughly $800 million more in funding. As we have seen over the years, art and music programs lack the resources and funding necessary to bring to students, especially those in low-income communities. This measure would allow more students across California the tools and resources to thrive within these areas. Additionally, the measure would not raise California taxes.
Initiative in Action:
In action this initiative will allot 70% of the funding to every public school in the state based on their enrollment of preK-12 students. The remaining 30% is allocated as an additional amount to schools serving economically disadvantaged students and communities. 100% of the funding within each school must go to arts and music, with at least 80% of the funds on hiring teachers and aides. The initiative requires schools to publish reports exemplifying how the money is to be used, the specific Arts programs funded, and how they align with the state standards. These regulations ensure funding is implemented as stated in the initiative.
Today, only 1 in 5 public schools in California have access to a recognized art or music teacher. Unfortunately, when public school finances are tight, most schools will cut art and music programs first. The underfunding hits low-income communities the hardest, severely impacting people of color; particularly Black and Latino students who make up 61% of total PreK-12 enrollment and 77% of enrollment in low-income communities. Having 30% of the funding dedicated to serving low-income communities will help bridge the educational and economic gap. Studies have shown that the arts are crucial for children’s development and a successful future. Arts education is directly linked to students’ well-being, critical motor and spatial skills, self-esteem, and improving students’ attendance and the likelihood of staying in school and pursuing a professional career. The list goes on and on.
Every child deserves art. Take a stand. Make a difference. VOTE.