letter to the editor pajaronian

Proposition 28 is an initiative on the Nov. 8 ballot that funds school-based arts and music education throughout the state. It’s estimated to provide an annual $900 million across California PK-12 public schools without raising taxes. For kids, this means more joy, opportunities to express themselves, and new pathways to learning in core subjects. If Prop. 28 passes, it will create an unprecedented opportunity to make a lasting impact on our community’s schools through the arts.

Prop. 28 will enrich students’ experience, support teachers, and help schools meet the California education code through substantial dedicated arts funding. Currently, the state education code requires California’s schools to include art in their curricula, but many schools lack funding to meet the minimum requirements.

Only one in five public schools in the state has a dedicated teacher for music, dance, theater, visual art, computer graphics, animation or filmmaking. Even when dedicated funding exists, as budgets contract, the arts are often first to get cut. This bill creates accountability and opportunities to measure the impact of the arts in schools by asking them to report annually on arts education spending.

Evidence shows that, for youth, arts education is critical to social-emotional development, building confidence, empathy and well-being. They can see themselves, their cultures, history and influence reflected in what they learn and explore. The arts can help us understand and connect; they open our eyes to things that words sometimes fail to express.

Arts education promotes ways of thinking (and doing!) that supports students’ full potential. They learn to take positive risks, how to turn mistakes into opportunities, and that there can be more than one correct answer. Youth also develop 21st-century workforce skills like collaboration, creative problem-solving and communication through the artistic process.

For 40-plus years, Arts Council Santa Cruz County has increased equitable access to quality arts education through advocacy, funding and professional development for teachers and teaching artists. Annually, we serve about 18,000 of the 40,000-plus K-12 students in Santa Cruz County. Through our arts education programs and investments, we inspire imaginations through hands-on arts learning in classrooms, after-school and community centers. Together, there is so much more we can do!

Proposition 28 dedicates dollars to schools across the state with additional funding to serve student populations at Title 1 schools with little or no funding or ongoing access to arts education. Join me and my colleagues at Arts Council Santa Cruz County in voting Yes on Proposition 28. It’s a chance to boost local districts, schools and the children they serve.

Jim Brown

Executive Director, Arts Council Santa Cruz County

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