Voters to decide in November on a $1B increase in art and music classes for California kids

ByMelinda D. Loyola

Jul 16, 2022 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Proposition 28, a proposal to roughly double funding for arts and music programs in California’s public schools, especially at schools serving high numbers of low-income students of color, has easily made it onto the Nov. 8 general election ballot.

The brainchild of former Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner, Proposition 28, the Arts and Music in Public Schools measure, would likely steer $800 million to $1 billion more to schools each year – about doubling the current amount. It would dramatically expand music education for students in preschool through grade 12, starting in 2023-24.

The amount would equal 1% of however much is allotted to education spending in the state budget through Prop. 98, a voter-approved measure that sets a minimum level of guaranteed funding for K-12 schools and community colleges each year. Proposition 28 funds would be on top of that amount.

Because the money would come out of the state’s general fund, this measure would not result in a tax increase on Californians – but it would mean less money for other areas of the state budget when money is shifted to art programs for the schools.

The measure received strong support from high-profile names including Steven A. Ballmer, Kevin Frazier, Katy Perry, Issa Rae, John Lithgow and Jeff Bridges. Many entertainment industry unions backed the measure including SAG-AFTRA, Actors’ Equity Association and the California branch of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. Variety reported that one goal of the measure is to better diversify the entertainment industry, “which remains disproportionately white.”

The funding formula for the money would favor low-income school districts in California. Just one in five California public schools has a full-time art or music teacher currently, and often low-income students of color are less likely to have access to such programs, according to campaign organizers.