Navigating Proposition 28: Panel Stresses Collaboration and Accountability in Expanding Arts Education

Navigating Proposition 28: Panel Stresses Collaboration and Accountability in Expanding Arts Education | Future Education Magazine


The recent implementation of Proposition 28, earmarking $1 billion annually for arts education in California, has ignited both hope and confusion among school districts statewide. In a bid to explore the transformative potential of this initiative, EdSource convened a panel of experts for a thought-provoking roundtable discussion titled, “Raising the curtain on Prop 28: Can arts education help transform California schools?” Held on March 21, the event shed light on the challenges and opportunities surrounding the expansion of arts education.

Marcos Hernandez, Principal of the International Studies Learning Center at Legacy High School in Los Angeles Unified, underscored the importance of collective commitment in leveraging the allocated funds effectively. “We have the funding to do great things,” Hernandez emphasized, “But we all have to be committed, and we have to listen to the students.”

Fostering Student Engagement Through Arts

Reflecting on his personal journey, panelist Matthew Garcia-Ramirez, a University of California Irvine student, highlighted the profound impact of arts education on his life. Recounting his middle school experience, Garcia-Ramirez credited his brief art classes with catalyzing transformative growth. He stressed the significance of nurturing individual voices within the artistic realm, citing his own scholarship journey as a testament to the power of creative expression.

The discussion resonated with Letty Kraus, Director of the California County Superintendents Statewide Arts Initiative, who linked arts education to improved student attendance rates. Kraus emphasized the role of arts in combating chronic absenteeism, advocating for its integration as a crucial 21st-century learning skill.

Malissa Feruzzi Shriver, co-founder of Turnaround Arts: California, echoed this sentiment, urging stakeholders to embrace arts education as a vehicle for applied creativity. Rejecting antiquated perceptions, Shriver emphasized the holistic impact of arts on student development beyond traditional artistic pursuits.

Challenges and Accountability in Implementation

While Proposition 28 holds promise for equitable access to arts education, challenges in its implementation persist. Former LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner expressed concern over deviations from the law’s intended purpose, citing instances where funds were used to supplement existing programs rather than augmenting arts education initiatives. Beutner urged for stringent oversight to ensure compliance and accountability, calling upon the state auditor to play a more proactive role.

Jessica Mele, Interim Executive Director of Create CA, highlighted the disparities faced by districts lacking in-house expertise to develop arts programs. Stressing the importance of strategic partnerships and professional development opportunities, Mele emphasized the need for collaborative efforts to bridge existing gaps and cultivate demand from students and families.

Empowering Student Voices

As the dialogue concluded, Garcia-Ramirez issued a poignant call to action, urging students to advocate for their right to quality arts education. Encouraging active participation in school district meetings and fostering a culture of inclusivity, Garcia-Ramirez emphasized the pivotal role of student voices in shaping educational policies.

In navigating the complexities of Proposition 28, the panel underscored the imperative of accountability, collaboration, and student-centered advocacy to realize the transformative potential of arts education across California’s diverse educational landscape.

Also Read: Unlocking the Power of Arts Integration: A Journey to Education’s Future

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