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: http://drop.io/ARTS_
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