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call to action: LAUSD to eliminate elementary arts education

February 06, 2012

Budget cuts are nothing new to us in this economy, and cutbacks in arts education have been an issue for decades now. It’s been great to see that the Los Angeles Unified School District has been making a concerted effort to provide a “nationally recognized Elementary Arts Program” and a curriculum that “fundamentally improve[s] student achievement in literacy and numeracy.” Their Arts Education Plan even includes the following phrase: “Based on research that demonstrates that the arts are fundamental to a child’s cognitive growth and academic career, Pre-K through Grade 12, every child deserves access to a quality arts education.”

However, the news broke late last week that the Los Angeles Unified School District has proposed TOTAL ELIMINATION OF ITS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL ARTS EDUCATION PROGRAM.

How can this be? Well, LAUSD is currently suffering from a deficit of more than $600 million, and the Elementary Arts Program is not the only thing to go. It’s certainly nothing new that the local, state and federal funding of public education is an uphill battle, but the concern today is that once programs like these are eliminated, it can take years to add them back (and there’s no guarantee that they WILL come back).

In response, Arts for LA is calling for public action: “Arts for LA opposes this drastic measure and urges parents, students, arts advocates to take action by sending a letter to your school board member and sharing the alert with your networks.” They’ve made it easy to make your opinion heard: just click here to send a pre-written email to your School Board member and Superintendent John Deasy. It only takes 5 minutes, but can help preserve arts education for nearly 300,000 LAUSD elementary school students.

This also means that programs like LACO’s Meet the Music program, which serves approximately 2,600 Los Angeles and Pasadena Unified School District 4th- through 6th-grade students each year, is more essential now than ever. This free program introduces students to the wonder and excitement of a live classical music concert – click here to learn more about Meet the Music.

On a personal note, I wanted to say that I am a proud graduate of a public school system where I was given every opportunity to participate in the arts. We are all in position to advocate for those who may not be given the same opportunities we had, and let’s help give the students of Los Angeles every chance at success. Again, I hope you will take a minute to write to the LAUSD School Board and help keep music in the schools.

2 comments

This has been a problem for decades in LAUSD. Granted there was some orchestra in some schools but it was by lottery. When my own attended, we parents/guardians banded together to raise $ to hire additional music teachers and provide instruments. And these were not wealthy schools but very low/low income student schools with students traveling from throughout the district. At one school in midwilshire , also low income magnet, the students could not always take a music class so we hosted a program on Saturdays, applied for grants and provided scholarships for students from throughout Los Angeles to attend. We raised $ for instruments as well. Some of these students went on to the Colburn School and Jr. Philharmonic. Children need music and exposure to it not only in the schools but before in Pre K. I hope everyone writes whether you have children or not, whether yours are in private or public. This will have far reaching dire consequences not only for the children but for our society as a whole.

  • —Eileen, February 09, 2012 07:41 pm

Update:

The LAUSD School Board has heard us! Yesterday the School Board announced that they will amend the budget-balancing plan for the 2012/2013 school year, postponing its adoption until March 13th. According to Arts For LA, they have requested alternatives and additional options regarding funding for arts education and other programs. Board Member Zimmer has even acknowledged that "Arts education is not a privilege, but a right, for all students." Click here to learn more the new plan for elementary arts education.

  • —Sarah Singer, February 15, 2012 09:26 am

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