Arts, music education measure draws no organized opposition
By STEVEN HERBERT
Proposition 28 on Tuesday’s ballot would provide additional funding for arts and music education in public schools without increasing taxes, and it has drawn no organized opposition.
What backers have dubbed “The Arts and Music in Schools — Funding Guarantee Accountability Act” would annually allocate 1% of the required state and local funding for public schools to additional funding for arts and music education in all kindergarten through 12th grade public schools, including charter schools.
The initiative would allocate a greater proportion of the funds to schools serving more economically disadvantaged students. Schools with 500 or more students would be required to spend at least 80% of funding to employ teachers and the remainder on training, supplies and education partnerships.
Passage of the initiative would result in increased spending for arts education in schools likely in the range of $800 million to $1 billion annually, beginning in the 2023-24 school year, according to an analysis by the Legislative Analyst Gabriel Petek and Keely Martin Bosler, the director of the Department of Finance.
Austin Beutner, the former Los Angeles Unified School District superintendent who wrote the measure, called it “a passion project for me.”
“My family moved a number of times when I was young, and I attended several different elementary schools,” Beutner told City News Service. “As a shy kid entering a new fifth grade classroom in the middle of a school year, my concern was not reading or math. It was who I was going to have lunch with my first day at school since I didn’t know anyone.
“Fortunately, a teacher invited me to a lunchtime music class. Cello became bass and then guitar. Along with it came a sense of agency and confidence. I could play in front of thousands of people before I could speak in front of tens. But it all started with a group of friends and a sense of belonging that I found in that fifth grade music class.”
Beutner said during his three years as superintendent, “I visited hundreds of schools and would always ask what I could do to help.”
“Invariably, someone at the school — a teacher, student or family member — would tell me they wished their school had a more complete arts or music program,” Beutner said. “Every student in every school should have the opportunity to participate in arts or music.”
Beutner has donated $4.2 million to the campaign on behalf of Proposition 28, while the political arm of the California Teachers Association has donated $2.5 million and the Fender Musical Instruments Corp. $1.2 million, according to the Secretary of State’s office. Los Angeles Clippers owner Steven Ballmer and actress Monica Horan have donated $1 million each.
Horan is best known for her recurring role of Amy MacDougall on the 1996-2005 CBS comedy “Everybody Loves Raymond,” which her husband Philip Rosenthal created and produced.