Photo by Flickr user timlewisnm / Creative Commons.

The Los Angeles Unified School District Board will vote on an updated fiscal stabilization plan today that would eliminate thousands of jobs and pose major cuts to adult education, early education, after-school and arts programs, among others. Although the board will consider this new worst-case scenario budget plan, the draft looks much like a previously proposed budget outline which received much opposition from teachers and students last month, reports the Daily News.

From the story:

    In the draft proposal, 24 adult education campuses would be closed, cutting more than 1,500 jobs and saving the district $134 million in the 2012-13 school year. Another $18 million would be slashed from early education programs, affecting almost 2,000 employees.

    Librarians would lose jobs, too. Children would use an automated system to check out books, according to the draft outline. In addition more than 300 cafeteria staff would be let go. The high-profile Academic Decathlon and All District Honor Marching Band also would be affected.

Diana del Pozo Mora, a Boyle Heights mother and activist, likens the cuts to “closing the door” on a student’s opportunity to receive a complete education. “The kids are knocking for more arts opportunities, but it seems like the district is not answering,” said Mora. “The arts tap into both sides of the brain; any education that activates all parts of the brain is ideal.”

For arts education advocates like me, this is a major blow to the work we’ve been focusing on: making arts accessible to all.

Cutting the elementary music program will result in the loss of instruction to 180,000 students; cutting the theatre, visual and dance programs will result in 72,500 students losing instruction.

The LAUSD Arts Education branch has been cut by over 70% in the past three years. The total elimination of the elementary arts program would close the 133-year elementary music program and the 13-year-old elementary dance, theatre and visual arts programs.

If these programs are eliminated, the responsibility for arts instruction, which is considered core curriculum by the state and federal governments, will fall entirely on classroom teachers.

The cuts will further exacerbate the inequality of arts education access districtwide. Private funds (such as those raised by PTAs) are currently used to bring in arts instruction but lower income communities do not have the same access to private funds as wealthier communities. This results in wealthier neighborhoods subsidizing arts instruction and lower-income neighborhoods going without those programs.

Abe Flores is a Boyle Heights resident and Advocacy Field Manager for Arts for LA, an arts education advocacy organization, where he leads advocacy workshops to create networks of arts advocates in L.A. County.

A version of this story was originally published in ArtsforLA.org

For past coverage of this issue, click here.

2 Responses

  1. Avatar
    Patricia Dilgard

    I am a retired librarian doing research on Boyle neighborhood schools, now on news because of Planned Parenthood clinic at Roosevelt High. These cuts are just the beginning. Who sets the priorities of what gets cut and what gets scrapped It seems the district places a high priority on health care professionals. In Phoenix Elementary School District (South Phoenix, mostly Hispanic) nurses were cut before arts. The district would never cut arts. Interested in your thoughts.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Abe

      The School Board and the Superintendent set the priorities in consultation with the public and their advisers. The arts have faced dramatic cuts over the year (about 70% reduction in the last three). Access to the arts has reduced and usually its the poorer communities that cannot fund raise to bring in lost arts programs that see programs go. A quality school has nurses, adult ed, early ed, the arts, sciences, history etc. but because schools are rated by their math and english scores – those are the only things that will never be cut.

      Reply

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