Today's San Francisco Chronicle weighs in on our side regarding the proposed $100 million reinvestment in arts education for California's public schools.
The paper clearly supports the proposal and offers some excellent suggestions to provide accountability and to ensure the funds will be used to build upon and not replace existing funds.
EDITORIAL – San Francisco Chronicle
Friday, March 24, 2006
The art of learning
THE STUDY of the arts is not a luxury. It is an essential component of a well-rounded education. Its positive effects on a child's spatial skills have been shown to translate into higher achievement in mathematics and other subjects. The lure of quality arts and music programs can help retain and
motivate students who might otherwise lose interest in school.
Regrettably, arts programs have been affected disproportionately by tightening K-12 budgets in recent years. Funding for arts education has been in steady decline since 1970, when California eliminated the arts-course requirements from the elementary teaching credential.
In an effort to reverse that trend, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger included $100 million for K-8 art and music education in his proposed 2006-07 budget. Advocates for arts education were especially heartened by the budget's promise that this newfound commitment to the arts "will be built upon" in future budgets.
"We've never had that type of support from a governor," said Laurie T. Schell, director of the Pasadena-based California Alliance for Arts Education.
In our view, the proposal would show an even stronger commitment to arts education — and have a better chance of enduring — if it were accompanied by legislation demanding more accountability and clear guidelines on how the money should be spent. Also, under the budget proposal, the grants would be divided evenly around the state, at the rate of $20 a pupil. A more effective use of this money would be to give priority to schools in lower-income areas that do not have arts programs.
Schwarzenegger's school-arts budget is an opportunity that cannot be squandered. This money must be accompanied by strict assurances that it will go to its intended purpose.