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Updated 5/4/12

The LAUSD Elementary Arts Program is scheduled for a 100 percent cut for 2012-2013. Under current budgeting, The Arts Branch administrative staff is budgeted to be reduced to one position. 10 years of growth are set to be lost, and the District may never recover. This is the time to fight before we lose what is left of what is considered one of the best elementary arts programs in the nation!

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Join in the fight to preserve arts education

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Save the Arts, an organization dedicated to preserving arts education in LAUSD, will hold a fundraiser event and art auction for the Arts Education Branch at the Cocoanut Grove Auditorium Theatre on Saturday, June 2, 2012. All donations through Save the Arts will be used to save arts teacher positions or fund arts materials in LAUSD schools. We'd love your donations!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Rally for Arts Education : Saturday, June 5th, 2010

Some scenes from Saturday's Rally for Arts Education and Measure E across the street from Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on Hope. A wonderful coming together of supporters of Arts education in LAUSD: parents, students, teachers and advocates.

Featured performances and speaking by:
Santee High School Drum Corps
Walter Reed MS Sax Trio
Nile El Wardani
Sandra Tsing Loh
UTLA President AJ Duffy
School Board Member Steve Zimmer
Many other LAUSD teachers and students, ages 6 and up! 

Twelve video clips from parent Jerry Lazar :


More video from music teacher Sam Liu: search utlarts on you tube for more.
Measure E Rally Part 1

Measure E Rally Part 2

Parent Angela Tietze's shots:

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

This School Tax is a Bargain - Steve Lopez on Measure E

LA Voters:

For about two dollars a week, you can raise 93 million dollars to save 174 elementary arts educator jobs (preserving the Program at current levels), 361 custodial jobs, 75 health service positions, 80 classroom aide positions, and 140 secondary core teaching positions. Schools would have an additional $44 million (due to State matching funds) to preserve even more jobs than this. Although we wish we were not in the position to have to depend on this measure to save our jobs, this is an advantage of local taxation: you know exactly where the money is going. I could even tell you the names of the dance, music, theater and visual arts teachers whose jobs would be saved. When do you have that kind of accountability with your taxes?

Another Rationale: Providing our schools with adequate resources for safety, supervision, and of course arts instruction for all children are an incentive to keep kids in public schools, meaning even more jobs will be preserved. 

Please vote YES on Measure E, June 8th!

Here is Steve Lopez' May 18 article in favor of the Parcel Tax:,0,2974385.column

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Update on Elementary Arts Funding

As it stands, the budget cuts remain at 50% for all arts disciplines. Without additional funding, this would mean only one day of arts per school, and that day would be shared between two arts areas.

Appallingly, the district also is planning to cut the Arts Specialist positions for Dance, Theatre, Music, and Visual Arts. These are the only central administrators looking after each of these academic areas for the entire District, Pre-K through 12. The administration of Arts Instruction for the District would fall on three administrators: one for Elementary, one for Secondary, and one overseeing it all.

There are a few rays of light poking through the many dark clouds, however. In the District's drive to decentralize, the burden of funding the Elementary Arts Program has been pushed to individual school sites. The Arts Education Branch and UTLA are sending recommendations to principal and chapter chairs to share with School Site Councils: The one day provided centrally should be supplemented with two additional days of instruction purchased with school funds. If this happens, all elementary arts positions will be saved, and secondary arts teachers with probationary credentials will probably keep their jobs as well.

Even though we project that this situation will result in greater socioeconomic and racial inequities in access to arts education district wide, it is our best bet as it stands for saving the Program. We expect that schools in more affluent areas will find the necessary funds under the necessary parent pressure to retain the arts, while poorer schools are forced to balance among competing needs, leaving access to arts education inequitable across the district.

If you are a parent or teacher, please make your voice heard at your local elementary school to use school funds to purchase arts teacher days.   The documents that can be referenced for purchasing positions are located at:

Also coming up is the parcel tax on the June 8th ballot, which includes arts instruction in the proposition language. We feel the District is using the Elementary Arts Program as a political pawn in the campaign to pass the parcel tax, perhaps a reason UTLA was unable to get the District to make concessions to save the Program. We (Elementary Arts Chapter Leadership) remain in support of the parcel tax.  As the State's budget dysfunction seems to have no end in sight, we need to find local solutions. It remains unclear whether or not the projected $92.5 million raised by the $100-per-parcel, 4 year tax (that's $8.33 per month per plot of land within district boundaries) would save the Elementary Arts Program in entirety. Please pressure the School Board and Superintendent Cortines to guarantee that Parcel Tax funds will completely restore the Elementary Arts Program, if passed.

Onwards and Upwards!
Michael Blasi and Ginger Fox, Co-Chair and Chair, Elementary Arts Chapter, UTLA

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

KPCC interview with LAUSD music teacher Eloise Porter

Music teacher facing layoff uses music to lift her spirits

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/KPCC
L.A. Unified music teacher Eloise Porter has received a preliminary layoff notice.
March 29, 2010 | Adolfo Guzman-Lopez | KPCC
California educators say school districts have told about 20,000 teachers that by summer they may lose their jobs. One public school instructor tries to distract herself from the prospect of a layoff by concentrating on her work.
Los Angeles Unified music teacher Eloise Porter lugs dog-eared sheet music, an iPod, and a hip-slung microphone and speaker to four different schools each week. On this day she’s in the auditorium at Buchanan Middle School in Highland Park, leading fourth- and fifth-graders through lessons on pitch and harmony. As they warm up and begin she reminds them that they can do better.
"That's not your best tone boys and girls."
Their second attempt brings a smile to her face. "That’s my beautiful Buchanan chorus sound."
Like the math and English here, Porter helps these students build on skills they learned the previous year. The students tackle Hashivenu, a song in Hebrew that tests their skills. Porter says she's seen improvement.
"I’ve been at this school for eight years now. And when I came singing was not very good here. But I also see second grade, first grade, second grade, and third grade for classroom music. So by the time they get to fourth grade, most of them can sing on pitch and most of them are interested."
Music has accompanied every phase of her life. Her grandmother played the piano, and Eloise Porter studied music throughout her childhood in San Fernando Valley public schools. She began teaching music in the Valley 23 years ago. She organized her public school students into a community children’s chorus.
"That choir toured to Arizona, toured to San Francisco, it toured to Copenhagen, and Finland."
Porter has closely followed the budget cuts debate at LA Unified. She says it was a relief when the district’s school board didn’t approve layoffs of music teachers like her. But she believes that the four years she taught outside California have placed her low on the seniority totem pole. She received her Reduction In Force notice three weeks ago. In disbelief, she says.
"Why did I get this? I’m not supposed to get this and if this is real, what’s going to happen? Because I’m my sole support."
Porter maintains that the teachers union hasn’t done enough to ask her and other teachers what they’d do to avoid layoffs. "There are a lot of permanent teachers who did not receive RIF notices that would be willing to take some kind of a pay cut and some kind of furlough days if, rather than have thousands of people lose their jobs."
As a music instructor, Porter has seen the way singing and music shape young brains and prepare them for the rigors of learning. She worries that what she’s helped to build at Buchanan Middle School and other campuses won’t continue if she’s not back in the fall.
"Right now we have a music teacher who is at least one day a week at every single elementary school in the district. So what’s going to happen to the music teachers if they’re only 50 percent of those music teachers left, then 50 percent of the schools will have no music next year."
It’ll take four more years of teaching to earn a decent retirement pension, Porter says. The pressure is getting to many teachers, she adds - but not to her.
"When I’m with the kids, I’m with the kids, that’s what I do and I’m here for the kids and I love what I do. I also love music. I love to sing. I go sing in a chorus on Thursday nights. So you know, that helps. But music lifts everyone’s spirits, always."
Teacher Eloise Porter holds out hope that she can successfully challenge her preliminary pink slip when hearings begin in May.

Friday, March 26, 2010

LAUSD Arts Education Budget Update
March 25, 2010
The Campaign to Save Arts Education in LAUSD has reached a critical juncture.  On March 15th, over 230 elementary arts teachers and arts specialists in dance, theatre, music, and visual arts received Reduction in Force notices, (aka, a Pink Slip).  The proposed cuts are more than we expected.  While still a worst-case scenario, if these proposed eliminations carry through to the final budget, they will effectively eliminate more than 50% of the elementary arts teaching positions. In addition, some middle and high school principals have already stated that they won’t fill the positions left vacant by the RIFed arts specialists at their schools, meaning, for example, that a high school could be left without a band program. Finally, the administration of arts education in LAUSD would be reduced from a staff of eight to a staff of three.
As you know, over the past couple of months we've been generating hundreds of letters to the LAUSD Board of Education in support of maintaining the elementary arts teaching positions at their current level.  It is clear that we need to continue and build upon that momentum, and that we need to bring our message to Superintendent Cortines.
That's why over the next week our goal is to hit 1000 letters.  We currently have about 850.  We need to make sure that every parent, student and community member who wants to maintain quality arts education in LAUSD writes a letter.   Once we hit this goal, we're going to send a special update to Superintendent Cortines with all the letters attached. 
Click here to send your letterThen share it on facebook.
If you have friends, neighbors, colleagues, or fellow parents in LAUSD, please forward this to them and let them know that we need their voices!
Thank you for your ongoing support in this effort.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

LAUSD Administrators Union stands up for arts instruction

 From the AALA website:

Week of March 1, 2010

For the past six months, AALA has encouraged the Board of Education to realize that a parcel tax is needed to balance the massive cuts from Sacramento. We believed that cutting the arts, increasing class size, closing libraries, eliminating administrators, as well as cutting safety at schools was devastating to our mission as educators. Some sources believe that Sacramento has sufficient revenue but has made no decisions except to pass its problems down to the local school boards. AALA has been at the forefront in urging the District to take advantage of all flexibilities regarding the budget including shortening the school year and pursuing a parcel tax.

.... continued....

AALA believes that now is the time for action. The Superintendent should be given authority by the Board to state the case publicly for the parcel tax. Site administrators should be given clear instructions about the legal way to present parcel tax information so that they are not inappropriately advocating a
position. The Board President and Superintendent should implement a thoughtful campaign to reach  out to all communities within the LAUSD boundaries. Right now, the District is spending money on consultants and outside attorneys instead of speaking up for the kids and schools who truly need this
money. Perhaps they are delirious with the $7 billion for construction, and they no longer care about instruction. There are 95 days until the election on June 8. It is time to get moving now!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Breaking News: Arts Included in LA City Parcel Tax Measure

Earlier this morning, Arts for LA reported that the LAUSD school board would vote today on whether or not to put a parcel tax ballot measure on the June 2010 ballot. The proposed measure will help raise millions of dollars for the district. The summary parcel tax language did not include designated funding for the arts in the 75-word summary to be used in ballots for the June special election.

Within three hours, nearly 100 local advocates wrote to the School Board asking that the arts be included in the parcel tax summary language. The proposed language was: "To offset severe state budget cuts, improve student achievement in reading/mathematics/science/arts, maintain vocational education and job training programs…"

L.A. Unified to seek $100 parcel tax hike -
[The Board of Education approved the ballot measure on a 5-1 vote, with Tamar Galatzan dissenting and Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte absent.

"We're funding [education] like a third-world country, and I have to take a stand and do something about it," said board member Richard Vladovic. "I'm voting to give parents the chance to say yes or no."]

Please write and thanks the Board Members who stood up on Tuesday for education in Los Angeles, and for including arts education in the parcel tax measure. Please ask all board members for their continued support in maintaining the Elementary Arts Programs:
Thank you!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Strength in Numbers: Defending LA Cultural Affairs Department's Funding

The voice to maintain the arts in Los Angeles in the face of budget shortfalls is being heard. Let's extend this movement to arts education in our public schools!
From Arts for LA site:
"Thanks to your efforts, the Campaign to retain the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs' TOT allocation was a success.
Over 5,000 letters were generated to City Council members from their stakeholders. An additional 100 advocates attended Wednesday's city council meeting, in which 30 impassioned speakers voiced the value of arts and culture to the city and the communities they serve."
LA Times:,0,6772199.story

Is Art Important?
Bettina Korek
Arts commentator and founder of ForYourArt (

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Elementary Arts Education Coalition Contact Form

Thursday, January 21, 2010

LA TIMES Culture Monster Post: LAUSD board meets to discuss fate of elementary school arts education

Principal Stephanie Harris, recently of Short Avenue Elementary School and now assigned to 54th Street Elementary School, presented the following to the LAUSD School Board at the Committee of the Whole on January 19, 2010.

"Our API continued to grow at a modest rate, as we provided high quality first instruction, used data to drive our instruction and intervention, and used reflective cycles of instruction. Then in 2007, we became an APS School via the Arts Education Branch from whom we gained credentialed dance, theater, and visual arts teachers.  These teachers, though only part-time at my school provided outstanding instruction in the various arts with direct correlations to Open Court, often making reading come alive for some of our most struggling students and allowing them to make connections to the curriculum in ways that some had never done before.  Student morale was very high, disciplinary issues were almost non-existent.  The only thing that was introduced that year was the arts program and nobody wanted to miss dance, art, music, or drama! No new intervention programs, no increase in Title 1 spending, no new textbooks in reading or math, no new core teachers...just art.  Yet we were all stunned when our API shot up 44 points that year! Again, nothing was new to our school except for the arts!  Could art have had such a significant impact on student achievement?  I absolutely think so.  "

The Wrap : Covering Hollywood: It's Time to Save Arts Education in L.A.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Glee Creator Ryan Murphy's Shout Out for Arts Education at the Golden Globes

 "Thank you to the Hollywood Foreign Press and Ms. Barbra Streisand. On behalf of our wonderful crew and our fake sexy teen cast, we would like to thank all of the wonderful people who actually thought a musical would work on prime time television... this show is about a lot of things, it's about the importance of arts education. And this is for anybody and everybody who got a wedgy in high school. Thank you."

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Otis College of Art and Design - 2009 Report on the Creative Economy of the Los Angeles Region

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra Blog "Shop Talk : a-b-c's and a-r-t-'s"
..."We’ve been masterfully swayed by the idea that it’s an elite minority – quaintly enlightened arts enthusiasts like you and me – who truly appreciate the importance of arts learning, while some vague, nameless majority of other people believe that the arts are some esoteric area of study (or worse, mere recreation) that exist in a realm completely disassociated from “real life.” But in fact, according to a 2005 Harris Poll, 93% of respondents said that the arts are essential to a complete education. I’d even go so far as to say that participating in creative activities, from drumming circles to painting with water colors, simultaneously takes us outside of ourselves and shows us how to search within – meaning that the arts are not only part of a well-rounded education, they are at the heart of it."...

 -Michelle Weger