Los Angeles Unified School District officially released its plan to restore arts education throughout the district yesterday. The “Arts Education and Creative Cultural Network Plan” will bring funding for arts education back to pre-recession levels by 2017.
The plan represents nearly nine months of work by the district, superintendent, and board of education. In October, LAUSD’s Board of Education unanimously passed the “Arts at the Core” resolution, which underscored the district’s philosophy about the importance of ensuring a complete education that includes the arts for all its students. Included in that resolution was a mandate for Dr. John Deasy, LAUSD’s superintendent, to work with district experts to craft a plan to make the restoration of arts education a viable, sustainable endeavor.
While the plan does support traditional methods of instruction in the arts through the hiring of elementary arts teachers, it also puts forward a strong plan to incorporate arts lessons in other core disciplines like English, science, social studies, and math. According to reporting in the Los Angeles Times today, elementary theater arts teacher Carol Koepenick said, “Just learning facts on their own doesn’t work. When you put it in the context of something [students] are interested in—whether music or dance—then the student develops a firmer understanding of what they’re learning.”
The plan also calls on Los Angeles County’s robust arts and culture sector to participate more fully in LAUSD’s arts education initiatives. Currently, nonrprofit arts organizations work citywide to provide or supplement arts learning experience for LAUSD’s students, both within and outside the school day. By leveraging the expertise of LA’s artists and arts administrators, LAUSD can ensure its students have access to both world-class arts and culture alongside folk, traditional, and community-oriented arts opportunities.
Funding for arts education programs in LAUSD has been cut by 41% over the last five years, including a 35% reduction in jobs. The Los Angeles Times reports as of last year, only 2% of elementary instruction was devoted to arts education classes.
Immediate gains for arts education will include a 10% increase in funding for the upcoming school year.