The Los Angeles school board voted last week to elevate the arts to an essential “core” subject and to gradually restore budget cuts for arts education. In addition, the unanimously approved resolution instructed the superintendent to develop a plan to integrate the arts across the curriculum as the 664,000-student system moves to implement the Common Core State Standards.
“For me, the issue of restoring and growing arts education and integrated arts instruction is a matter of social justice and educational equity,” Nury Martinez, the board member who authored the resolution, said in a press release.
To help make her case, Ms. Martinez was joined by actors Cheech Marin (of Cheech & Chong fame) and Monica Rosenthal (from the “Everybody Loves Raymond” television series).
The resolution calls on Superintendent John Deasy to match or exceed arts funding provided in the 2007-08 school year, before a series of what the press release calls “massive budget deficits that crippled district finances across-the-board.”
The number of arts specialists employed by the district has declined from 345 in 2008 to 204 today, according to a fact sheet provided by the district. It also indicates that since 2008, access to arts education for elementary students has declined by 40 percent, though it did not provide specific budget numbers.
The action came one day after the Los Angeles Fund for Public Education announced a $4 million campaign, called Arts Matter, to raise public awareness about the importance of arts education for the city’s schools, and to support the development of arts-integration curricula. The campaign includes the public display of original works of art by local artists on city buses and outdoor advertising spaces. It even has recruited pop singer and teenage idol Justin Bieber to lead a social-media campaign to help mobilize his widespread following in support of arts education.
“As the center of the creative economy, every L.A. student should receive the benefits of daily creative learning,” said Superintendent Deasy in the press release announcing Arts Matter.
A version of this article appeared in the October 17, 2012 edition of Education Week as Los Angeles School Board Makes Arts an Essential ‘Core’ Subject