On Nov. 8, Californians overwhelmingly passed Proposition 28, which will bring a windfall of arts education funding to California schools. Advocates say the investment is long overdue, as arts education has declined in most districts — particularly those in low-income areas — for decades. While the state requires arts education in grades one to six and a year of arts education in high school, it’s up to districts to decide how to fund and implement it. The result has been an inconsistent patchwork of arts programs that leave many children with little exposure to music, dance, art and other creative forms of expression.
Proposition 28 funds will be distributed according to enrollment, with 70% based on overall enrollment and 30% based on Title 1 enrollment. In all, districts will receive an additional 1% of their funding allotment to spend on the arts. School boards must certify districts’ Prop. 28 budgets annually, post the expenses on the district’s website and submit the information to the state Department of Education, where it will be available to the public.
Schools must spend 80% of the money on teachers and aides, which should help alleviate California’s teacher shortage, with the remainder of the funds earmarked for art supplies and materials.
We talked to former Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Austin Beutner, a chief backer of Proposition 28, about what students, families and schools can expect when the measure goes into effect in 2023.
What, specifically, will Proposition 28 do for California schools?
Prop. 28 will provide about $1 billion each year in funding to California public schools, so all 6 million students in pre-K through 12th grade can participate in arts and music at school.
Where will the money come from?
The funds will come from the state’s general fund. There will be no new taxes or increase in tax rates.
Why is arts education important to you, personally?
As a shy kid entering a new school in fifth grade during the middle of a school year, my concern was not literacy or math. It was who was I going to have lunch with my first day of school since I didn’t know anyone. Fortunately, a music teacher invited me to a lunchtime class. Cello became bass and then guitar. Along with it came a sense of agency and confidence. I could play in front of thousands of people before I could speak in front of tens. But it all started with a group of friends and a sense of belonging in that fifth grade class.
Everyone who has had the opportunity to participate in arts and music has a story like mine.
The arts are universal, and they’re the glue that bonds together literacy and math in a good education. I want to make sure every child in every classroom has the opportunity to participate in arts and music and experience their own story.
What’s the status of arts education in California schools currently?
Unfortunately, barely 1 in 5 California public schools has a full-time arts or music teacher.
That’s not acceptable.
What kinds of arts activities and projects can students and families expect to see come out of this?
Proposition 28 will provide funding for traditional forms of creative expression like music, theater, dance and visual arts, as well as more contemporary areas including filmmaking, animation and graphic design. A novel feature of Prop. 28 is each school community will get to decide how the funds are used. We didn’t want the bureaucrats in Sacramento or school districts to dictate any particular approach. Families can help decide what they want for their children.
Will there be a broader impact in California?
The impact will be seen in schools and communities, where Prop. 28 will create more than 15,000 additional jobs for teachers and teachers’ aides as well as in community arts organizations. This will help prepare California school children for good-paying jobs, not just in the arts but in other sectors where the creative-thinking and problem-solving skills they learn can be applied.
Longer term, Prop. 28 will lead to greater diversity in the technology, media and entertainment industries as a broader population of students in California public schools find the doors of opportunity open for them with their newfound skills and experiences.
What’s the benefit of arts education generally for students?
Research shows children who participate in the arts have better attendance in school and higher achievement in academic subjects. In addition, the arts help students with their social and emotional well-being. That’s timely and important as school communities and the children they serve recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the passage of Proposition 28, how will California compare to other states in arts education?
The passage of Prop. 28 makes California a leader in arts education and will lead to the largest investment in arts and music in our nation’s history. My hope is this will start a movement which other states join to provide all 55 million children in public schools the opportunity to participate in arts and music at school.
Prop. 28 passed by a wide margin. What does that tell you?
Proposition 28 passed with more than 64% of the vote, the largest margin of victory ever for an education initiative in California. The state Voter Guide showed our arguments for the initiative while the opposing page was blank but for the words, “No Argument was Submitted in Opposition to Prop. 28.” Because there are none.
For the first time in a long, long time, teachers and school staff were joined by artists and entrepreneurs along with business, labor and community organizations to support public education. Proposition 28 is the first guaranteed increase in funding for California public schools in 34 years. I hope we can build on this and continue to advocate for the best possible education for the children in California’s public schools.
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Harry Bernstein 1 month ago1 month ago
Community Colleges are mentioned in Proposition 28 in terms of the allocation of money to them from Proposition 98. Most of this education funding for public schools goes to K-12 schools. There is an emphasis in the text of Proposition 28 on funding additional training and staffing, but from what I can see, none of it goes toward the training that will no doubt be provided by Colleges for the jobs related to Art and … Read More
Community Colleges are mentioned in Proposition 28 in terms of the allocation of money to them from Proposition 98. Most of this education funding for public schools goes to K-12 schools. There is an emphasis in the text of Proposition 28 on funding additional training and staffing, but from what I can see, none of it goes toward the training that will no doubt be provided by Colleges for the jobs related to Art and Music. Are there any insights about this oversight?
Keegan Hamlin 3 months ago3 months ago
When you wrote, “Research shows children who participate in the arts have better attendance in school and higher achievement in academic subjects,” to what research are you referring? I’m currently writing a research paper on the importance of funding for the arts and was curious if I could use your same research within my paper!? Thanks! 🙂
Caitlin Johnston 3 months ago3 months ago
Is this funding meant for all students? Our district currently tracks middle school students out of all electives if they are considered ELLs. Instead of electives, they must take an ELD class….
Jacquie 4 months ago4 months ago
When will the Proposition 28 Funds be available for districts to use? Is it already in school district hands?
KCH 4 months ago4 months ago
Are there guidelines for arts education partnerships that can be used for a school district? In the case of theatre/dance the credential is only in its first year and there are no teachers. Can an arts organization provide opportunities for the students to experience theatre and dance through workshops or after-school/summer programs?
Caitlin Johnston 3 months ago3 months ago
There are currently dance and theater teachers in California public schools. You can get a supplementary authorization in each subject (which I have) which allows you to teach those subjects K-8. Also, there are English teachers teaching Theater in high school and PE teachers teaching dance.
Trisha L Leeper 5 months ago5 months ago
Do you know when these funds will start being distributed to the schools?
Adrienne L Valencia 3 months ago3 months ago
The money will be available starting July 1, 2023.
David Heredia 6 months ago6 months ago
How long will California schools receive funding for the arts? Is it for one year or on an ongoing basis? With teacher shortages, will schools start hiring contractors and art organizations to teach these art programs?
John Fensterwald 6 months ago6 months ago
Prop. 28 is an ongoing appropriation.
Eric Premack 6 months ago6 months ago
The 30 percent funding increment noted above will be allocated based on counts of students eligible for federally subsidized meals, not the federal Title I program. The meal program eligibility reaches up to 185% of poverty income whereas Title I funds are allocated to districts primarily on the basis of poverty-level income (and a bunch of complex "hold harmless" formulas). The notion that this program will "alleviate" the teacher shortage likely is the opposite from … Read More
The 30 percent funding increment noted above will be allocated based on counts of students eligible for federally subsidized meals, not the federal Title I program. The meal program eligibility reaches up to 185% of poverty income whereas Title I funds are allocated to districts primarily on the basis of poverty-level income (and a bunch of complex “hold harmless” formulas).
The notion that this program will “alleviate” the teacher shortage likely is the opposite from reality unless a large number of credentialed art teachers appear from out of the woodwork. While the prospect of increasing funding for arts is great, it’s unfortunate that we have to use one-size-fits-all, ballot-box budgeting to get it. It appears that Mr. Beutner is a bit ahead of his skis on several points.
el 6 months ago6 months ago
Anecdotally it seemed very very hard to find art teachers last year, and I'd agree with Eric's assessment that there's not really anything here that increases the supply of credentialed art teachers. Dance and music is even harder. This isn't money that lets us raise salaries for them, though maybe it will make it easier to create full time positions in some cases where before a teacher would only be funded for part time in … Read More
Anecdotally it seemed very very hard to find art teachers last year, and I’d agree with Eric’s assessment that there’s not really anything here that increases the supply of credentialed art teachers. Dance and music is even harder. This isn’t money that lets us raise salaries for them, though maybe it will make it easier to create full time positions in some cases where before a teacher would only be funded for part time in say music and then have some other assignment for the rest of their time. At best it will probably take a few years before additional perceived security creates additional supply of people willing and appropriate to take these positions.
A couple of commenters are worried about shifting funds – not to worry, there are all kinds of relatively burdensome reports where districts will have to show maintenance of effort and that this is additional funding. For districts that have maintained a strong art program, I’m not sure it’s so terrible if they use this funding. I’d prefer we just set a standard expectation of what should be available instead of a nebulous more than some previous baseline.
I am glad to see more funding for art and I hope we can create a wider range of arts in every school supervised by subject matter experts.
KCA 2 months ago2 months ago
Hi, my partner is losing her job starting in August because apparently this bill made it so she cant teach the dance class she's been teaching as an independent contractor. She would have to be staff and therefore credentialed. Now we'll need to spend tens of thousands of dollars (with less income because she cant teach now) to get the credential in order to do what she's already been doing for years. Any advice, or … Read More
Hi, my partner is losing her job starting in August because apparently this bill made it so she cant teach the dance class she’s been teaching as an independent contractor. She would have to be staff and therefore credentialed. Now we’ll need to spend tens of thousands of dollars (with less income because she cant teach now) to get the credential in order to do what she’s already been doing for years. Any advice, or is there a loophole anyone is aware of, cause I’m for this bill, but this outcome sucks and seems like many may be in the same boat as my partner..?
JD 4 weeks ago4 weeks ago
I don’t believe this bill changed anything regarding credentialing requirements in schools. A certificated teacher has always been required to provide instruction per ed code 44830. Charters schools did have flexibility prior to AB 1505 but that has since gone away. If you are a docent or expert volunteer, then you can provide instruction in the classroom with the teacher present but you cannot be paid per ed code 35021.
Peter McManus 6 months ago6 months ago
My concern, especially for schools that do have an established art program, is that we still see value-added aspects to art programs instead of a simple shifting of where the funds come from. Putting that concern aside, I am excited about the prospects for our schools.
Gregory L 6 months ago6 months ago
If it is so important, we ought to get more competent superintendents and administrators who can budget according to properties. The statement “there will be no new taxes or increase in tax rates” is clearly an assertion in comfort with every piece of historical evidence. If money is taken from the general fund, you can be absolutely sure it will be replaced; it has never been otherwise.