Guarantee funding for arts and music education
What did voters decide?
Proposition 28 easily passed, with more than 64% of the vote.
What will it do?
Proposition 98 requires the state to spend a certain percentage of its general fund on public education. This measure will require the state to add an amount equal to 1% of Prop. 98 funding — money guaranteed for public schools and community colleges in the state budget — for music and arts education. That’s estimated to be a $1 billion annual set aside. This measure would not raise taxes, so the additional money would have to come from elsewhere in the state’s general fund. Proponents say the state’s recent surplus should cover the cost. Schools with high proportions of students from low-income households would get more funding. School districts will be required to spend 80% of the new funding on hiring arts and music instructors, and they will have to publish annual reports on how they spend the money.
Why was it on the ballot?
State law requires instruction in visual and performing arts for grades 1-6. For grades 7-8, schools must offer arts classes either during or after school. High school students must take either a year of art, a foreign language or career and technical education to graduate. But most California high schools require students to take art to align with the admissions requirements for the California State University and University of California systems.
But when school district budgets are cut during economic downturns, arts and music programs are often the first to be downsized. So former Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Austin Beutner said he launched the Prop. 28 campaign to turn the arts into a core subject along with math, science and reading.
He said the push for more arts education was inspired by conversations he had with educators during his time leading the state’s largest school district. Citing a 2021 study by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Beutner said giving students the space to express themselves creatively leads to a sense of belonging, which in turn helps them in math and reading.
“Math has rules. Grammar has rules. Art is unbounded,” Beutner said. “And if you think about preparing students for critical thinking, art isn’t just the sprinkles on an ice cream sundae. It’s an essential piece.”
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Beutner, who donated more than $4 million to the campaign, and other supporters also say that arts and music instruction could help address the mental health crisis facing California’s youth as they recover from the pandemic.
Along with Beutner, supporters include Sylvester Stallone and other Hollywood stars and musicians such as Anderson .Paak and Barbara Streisand. Prop. 28 also has strong support from teachers unions, as the arts funding is expected to generate jobs for educators.
Fender Musical Instruments donated more than $1 million to the campaign. Fender CEO Andy Mooney said the company has donated more than 10,000 guitars to Los Angeles Unified and hopes Prop. 28 will allow Fender to donate instruments to other districts.
- Vote Yes on 28 committee
- SEIU California
- California Democratic Party
- Local arts organizations
- Local music and arts education groups
No official opposition filed.
But critics, including some newspaper editorial boards, call it “ballot box budgeting” that locks in even more spending for schools and that could force cuts to other important state programs in the next recession.
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