Proposition 28 would support arts and music education in K-12 schools

Voters searching the official state election guide for arguments against Proposition 28 will find a blank page.

The rare event reflects near-universal support for the measure, which would ensure minimum funding for arts and music education in all public K-12 schools. Perhaps more importantly, for voters, the initiative would do so without creating new taxes.

Former Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Austin Beutner, who is leading the campaign, called the measure “the feel-good story of 2022.” He cited recent data from the California Department of Education showing that only one in five public schools have a full-time teacher for traditional arts or music programs. This is despite California law requiring students to receive some degree of instruction in these subjects.

“A lot of the time, ballot initiatives are sort of byzantine and complex,” Beutner said. “It’s actually quite simple. It’s about providing arts and music education for kids in school. That’s what he says he does and that’s what he does.

How Prop. 28 would it work?

It would allocate a portion of the state’s general fund equal to 1% of Proposition 98, the 1988 initiative that established a minimum level of funding for public education.

It also requires schools to report how the money is used and the specific program funded. At least 90% of the stipend must directly fund arts or music education, and only 1% can go to administrative costs.

For districts, 70% of the allocation will be based on enrollment in the previous fiscal year. The remaining 30% will be linked to the number of students from low-income households. Districts must spend 80% of the money to employ teachers and 20% for training and supplies.

Proposition 28 would likely increase state education spending by $800 million to $1 billion a year, starting in 2023, according to the Office of the Legislative Analyst. Proponents expect the measure will result in 15,000 more art and music teachers, which would double the current numbers.

Who supports Prop. 28?

Supporters include Dr. Dre, Earth Wind & Fire, Anderson .Paak, Sylvester Stallone and an ever-growing list of other Hollywood stars and musicians. It is also supported by the California Teachers Association, California State PTA, California Music Educators Association, and several labor organizations.

Currently, financial support for the measure amounts to nearly $10 million. Major donors are Beutner, Fender Musical Instruments Corp and Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer.

Who is against Prop 28?

There is no organized opposition.

But the initiative could possibly come at the expense of other state-funded programs since the money would be taken without a new source of revenue. Governor Gavin Newsom has recently emphasized fiscal discipline, particularly on ongoing spending.

This story was originally published September 30, 2022 5:00 a.m.

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Mathew Miranda covers Latino communities for the Sacramento Bee. Mathew has bylines in Chico Enterprise-Record, Richmond Pulse, Oaklandside, and Las Vegas Review-Journal. He is a native of Los Angeles and the proud son of two Salvadoran immigrants.

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