Editor’s note: This story is the product of an ongoing collaboration between Citizen and California State University, Sacramento’s journalism program. This fall, students contributed stories on topics that impact members of the Elk Grove community. They are taught by Philip Reese, Sacramento Bee reporter and assistant professor of journalism.
Voters across California will decide in November whether California should allocate funds from the state budget to arts and music education in public schools.
If Proposition 28 passes, the state will set aside the equivalent of 1% of the previous year’s education funding for arts and music education in K-12 public schools and charter schools. year, which translates to about $800 million to $1 billion per year, according to the office of the California Secretary of State.
Of the total amount, 70% would go to schools based on their share of statewide enrollment, and the remaining 30% would go to schools based on their share of low-income students enrolled statewide, according to the Office of the Legislative Analyst.
Schools with more than 500 students must spend at least 80% of funding to employ teachers. The remaining funds will be spent on teacher training, school supplies and education partnerships.
Christopher Hoffman, superintendent of the Elk Grove Unified School District (EGUSD), which is California’s fifth-largest school district, said he supports Proposition 28 because visual and performing arts “are a important part of a well-rounded education”. and any continued support for such programs is certainly welcome.
“We support the concept of identifying a continuing source for (visual arts and performing) programs, but there’s still a lot of work to do if (proposal) 28 passes,” Hoffman said via e-mail. mail.
Some parents with children in EGUSD said they support Proposition 28 if dedicated funding can bring more arts and music programs back into schools.
Tiana Perry-Carty, 35, said she supports Proposition 28 because her son attends the same performing arts school she attended as a child, but the school no longer has the arts and music programs she remembers.
“I can really see the effect on the type of educational experience he has,” Perry-Carty said. “They don’t really have a theater program anymore. The music is still there, but it’s really reduced.
She said that to give her son artistic and musical experience, she takes him to theater performances in the Sacramento area. She said her artistic and musical interactions shaped her educational experience, and “it’s just sad that they don’t have those experiences in school.”
“It kind of shaped that, I love Shakespeare, which is not really (something) someone my age and (being) African American loves,” Perry-Carty said. “’She likes Shakespeare? What’s going on?’ But I studied it when I went to college because I fell in love with it.
Iliana Becerra, 20, also an EGUSD alumnus, said she supports Proposition 28 because students would have more opportunities to get involved in arts and music programs.
“They will be able to financially afford to be in their program if school districts give (students) the necessary equipment,” Becerra said. “(The arts and music) allow students to express themselves and find hobbies and interests.”
Becerra said arts and music programs are essential for a child’s personal development, as they will be able to connect with others and peers who have the same passion.
Former Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner started the campaign for Proposition 28. He said the number one reason California voters should support it is that one in five schools has a program of full-time arts and music.
“We have a chance here…to do it the right way without raising taxes [for] nobody,” Beutner said. “All we’re going to do is set aside some money, make sure it goes to schools, (and) give schools the opportunity to decide how it’s used and what type of art. I mean everything from song and dance to theater to animation to pottery and everything in between.
In November 2021, the Los Angeles Times published an op-ed in opposition to Proposition 28. The publication wrote that if the ballot initiative passes, schools must use the new funds they receive for arts and of music. However, the funds they are currently spending on the arts could be used for something else in a “backdoor way to increase funding for schools”.
“That’s not true; I’m a little embarrassed as an alumnus of a big institution,” said Beutner, who served as the media’s editor for parts of 2014 and 2015. checked the facts.There is specific language in the proposal that says this money can only complement, not supplant, school programs.
In September 2022, the Los Angeles Times backtracked and published an endorsement of Proposition 28.
Lance Christensen is a Republican running in the nonpartisan race for California Superintendent of Public Instruction. He said he is a father of five with his youngest in first grade and his oldest recently graduating from high school. The contestant said they all play an instrument and sing. While he is against Proposition 28, he said he is not against the arts and music.
“We may regret that this proposal is passed in the next few years,” Christensen said. “If the school cuts happen again, this mandate will require (schools) to keep music and arts teachers rather than keep a STEM classroom teacher.”
Christensen said he recently visited a K-12 charter school in Santa Ana that had a huge underserved population and “more guitars, ukuleles, pianos, flutes (and) violins than you could shake.”
“Their test scores were better than most of their competing regular and traditional public schools, and they were able to accomplish this much better because they had the discretion and decided that music and the arts were really important,” a- he declared.
“I think a lot of public schools are often constrained by decisions made at the administrative level,” Christensen added. “Art and music lessons can be improved without needing more funding. Having amazing teachers makes all the difference, so parents would be more likely to donate money to the programs.
He said he worked for 17 years in the California legislature and learned never to underestimate the ability of the California legislature “to really screw up education funding.”
Christensen said state lawmakers like Assemblyman Ken Cooley, D-Rancho Cordova and state Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, were not in favor of providing funding. more for the arts in schools through legislation because they are backed by teachers’ unions who don’t care. as much on funding the arts and music; Christensen said this inspires voters to seek ballot box budgeting solutions.
“I have no idea who Lance is or why he brought up Ken Cooley,” Jillena Hernandez, Cooley’s chief of staff, said via email.
Hernandez did not respond to a request for comment on Cooley’s position on Proposition 28. Representatives for Pan did not respond to requests for comment.
Some parents whose children are not enrolled in EGUSD also support Proposition 28.
TaiJuana Jackson, 40, lives with her children in Elk Grove but sends them to their home computers to attend school virtually at Abeka Academy, a Christian distance-learning program based in Pensacola, Florida.
“They actually built art into the curriculum until fourth grade, and then we also ask them to do piano (and) ballet in the community, but we have the capacity to afford that,” said Jackson. “I think when it comes to music, there aren’t a lot of programs, especially for underserved kids, to get access to private lessons and such.”
Despite her children’s out-of-state learning circumstances, Jackson said she supports Proposition 28 because it would provide kids with a way to express themselves beyond math, science or reading.
Hoffman said one of the first things EGUSD would likely do if the proposal passed is consider which of its programs and positions it would develop on an ongoing basis.
“We also have a roadmap for (visual and performing arts programs) that outlines what we want our (visual and performing arts) programs to be and a dedicated source of funding would allow us to accelerate this plan,” he said.