LAUSD May Face Cuts to Choral Curriculum

See update below:

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) continues to face funding cut proposals. Last month, thanks to vocal teachers and parents, the full-year orchestra programs were saved—for 160 schools at least. With 175 schools applying, said LAUSD K-12 arts coordinator Steven McCarthy, they may have to resort to a lottery system to allocate available teachers and instruments.

On April 29, however, LAUSD officials presented a proposal that would reduce arts classes in order to reach more students. The “new plan would provide all third-through-fifth graders with access to visual arts, choral, dance and theater instruction—each in nine-week chunks throughout the school year,” effective for the 2015-16 school year. “This is going backwards a bit,” said McCarthy.

If this plan is approved, arts programs already established in schools would be dramatically cut. And the greatest cut would be to choral instruction, which is traditionally a year-long curriculum at the elementary level.

“Arts instruction requires continuity, and this plan destroys it,” said retired LAUSD teacher Barbara Aran.

McCarthy describes his plan as one that works with the resources he has. School board members Monica Ratliff and Bennett Kayser raised questions about what budget amount would be needed in order to fully fund the arts in the L.A. Unified School District, requesting McCarthy provide a budget plan that would adequately meet the needs of a complete music and arts program.

Update from California Music Educators Association:

Although the idea to change elementary instrumental music in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) from year-long to single-semester classes has been rescinded, the District is still considering the hiring of 168 “arts integration” teachers, instead of much-needed arts-credentialed educators.  Currently, many students in LAUSD do not receive arts education taught by arts-credentialed teachers.  CMEA and LACESMA oppose the hiring of arts-integration teachers since such individuals are not typically qualified to teach Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) Content Standards.  Only credentialed arts specialist teachers can deliver arts content with the rigor embedded in California’s VAPA Content Standards.

CMEA President Michael Stone has sent a letter to the Dr. Richard Vladovic, President of the LAUSD Governing Board, supporting LACESMA’s Basic Recommendations for Elementary Arts.

Mary Plummer, “New proposal for LA schools reduces arts exposure to serve more students,” KPCC Southern California Public Radio, 19 April 2014.

Learn more about California MEA’s latest initiative is Stand Up for Music, their music advocacy website. The CMEA Advocacy Day 2014 at the State Capitol will take place May 22 in Sacramento.

Catherina Hurlburt, Special Assistant, May 9, 2014. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)