Proposition 28: Should the state set aside money for the arts, music education? | New
Omar Anzaldua, a music teacher at Valley Oaks Elementary School, has taught in several districts – and fought for funding in nearly all of them.
“I went to buy a bunch of buckets from Home Depot so we could do a bunch of buckets,” Anzaldua said. “It’s really a fight, scratching and trying to get away from wherever you can.”
Help for Anzaldua and other teachers could be on the way in the form of California Proposition 28, a November ballot initiative that would increase funding for arts and music education for K-12 students at Galt and the rest of California.
The measure, if passed, would require the equivalent of 1% of state funding allocated to schools under Proposition 98 to be used for arts and music education. Schools would have to spend this money, which would be around $1 billion a year, mainly on hiring arts and music teachers.
Anzaldua said he wishes there was more funding to buy new equipment and repair some instruments his students are already playing.
“I understand the prop is to hire teachers, which is the biggest investment,” Anzaldua said. “Then continue financing for the purchase of new equipment. Some of my students have played instruments older than me.
The pandemic shutdown has hit arts and music education hard, as students have spent extended periods in virtual classrooms, according to Los Angeles Unified School District superintendent Austin Beutner. “It’s more timely than ever.”
“The arts and music are part of an essential education,” he said. “Every child should have the opportunity to participate in the arts and music.”
He added: “They universally want this. The whole school community supports him. … The students are delighted.
Proposition 28 has no formal and organized opposition. However, Lance Christensen, a candidate for California state superintendent of public instruction, opposes it and says he is taking money from the wrong places. Christensen says a lot of what’s happening with arts programs has to do with administrative decisions.
“If they really wanted arts and music in the classroom, they could do it overnight,” Christensen said. “It would be done tomorrow. It’s just not a priority for them.
There are ways to do this without increasing ballot box budgeting, according to Christensen.
“If you really want to improve the arts and music, [colleges must] change their AG requirements,” Christensen said. “Make the districts see it as hard so you don’t just say it’s good because it’s art and music.”
Nayeli Chaidez, a parent of a fifth-grader in Valley Oaks, said Proposition 28 was an easy yes for her.
“It’s not going to cut other programs… It makes sense,” Chaidez said. “There are so many surpluses” in the state budget, she added.
The focus on arts education helps build student confidence. According to Chaidez, music and arts education is just as important as other fields of study and deserves additional funding.
“I think it’s all connected; then they carry it over to the other topics,” Chaidez said. “It could do that for a lot of kids when provided by the school.”
Dr. Clay Redfield, head of music education at the School of Music at California State University, Sacramento, said a solid foundation of music education at a young age can have an impact.
“Music is an important part of every culture in the world,” Redfield said. “(It) has been throughout history, a powerful universal language and scoring system, a positive emotional outlet for young people…a subject which has its greatest success when introduced at some point appropriate, as is the acquisition of language.”
Redfield oversees the Sacramento State Music Teacher Preparation Program. He graduated from Sacramento State and has been teaching music for 36 years. He has taught music at all levels, from kindergarten to college. His whole family is an educator.
“If more funding is provided for arts education, particularly if that funding is directed towards hiring more music teachers, it stands to reason that more students will have the opportunity to study music.”
Carson March, a 23-year-old Sacramento resident who recently graduated from the University of Hawai’i, said the music and art classes he took shaped him into who he is today. today. He said other students should have the same opportunity.
“The art and music classes really helped me grow,” March said. “As a young man going through the education system, taking art and music lessons really helped me find my passions in life…everyone should have the same opportunity.”