So Cal education, LAUSD, the Cal States and the UCs

Report: Arts education has many benefits, but links to improved academics are limited

Renaissance Arts Academy - 7

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Tenth grader Emmet Webster and twelfth grader Aidan Faith play double bass at Renaissance Arts Academy in Eagle Rock. Music education has been linked to improving student IQ scores.

A comprehensive new report out Monday outlines the benefits and limits of arts education by digging into the data and outlining what research has been established in the field.

Among the findings: Learning music can boost students' IQ scores and visual arts likely help students' understanding of geometrical reasoning. But the report also notes that there's no evidence theater and dance help with overall academic skills.

The report, called "Art for Art's Sake: The Impact of Arts Education," is from the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation based in Paris at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The authors reviewed research databases in a variety of languages including Dutch, English, German, Italian, French and Korean.

Here are a few of the findings from the executive summary:


Facing its first budget increase in years, LA Unified board members set to debate how to spend it

Mercer 216

David McNew/Getty Images

A meeting of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education. The board is scheduled to vote on a new budget on Tuesday

Los Angeles Unified School District’s board of education is set to vote Tuesday on next fiscal year’s budget. For the first time in years, members will not be faced with figuring out where to make drastic cuts.

The budget proposed by Superintendent John Deasy for the 2013-14 school year has $266 million more than last year’s budget - due in part to an improving economy and last year’s voter-approved state tax increase for schools.

The state is requiring the district to spend some of that extra money to help students in poverty, in foster care, or whose first language isn't English.

But the district can decide how to spend other funds  -- and that may create some tension among board members at Tuesday’s board meeting. Board member Monica Garcia wants to continue the district’s focus on low performing schools.


Saugus Union school board member in hot water over alleged racist comments

Stephen Winkler


Saugus Union board member Stephen Winkler smiled frequently throughout the meeting.

Sparks are flying in Saugus, where the school board voted 4-1 Thursday night to censure one of its own members for allegedly posting racially offensive comments on social media.

“The governing board has received information leading this board to conclude that board member Stephen Winkler has made public statements in the form of online postings expressing support for Nazism, slavery and segregation and enjoyment of cruelty towards animals,” board member Paul De La Cerda read to the audience of more than a hundred at during a nearly two-hour long emergency meeting at the district's education center in Santa Clarita.

The lone dissenting vote came from Winkler himself, who has maintained his innocence since the controversy began on Sunday.

"I'm shocked and dismayed," Winkler said. "I don't hold any of the views of the Nazi party. I don't hold any racist views, and I'm just as disgusted about these as you are."


LA Unified philanthropy taps wealthy Angelinos for projects near to superintendent's heart

LA Fund

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez

Philanthropist Megan Chernin in the Century City offices of the Los Angeles Fund for Public Education.

The Los Angeles Fund for Public Education was created two years ago to tap wealthy, high profile donors to help the mostly low-income kids in Los Angeles Unified School District. 

Founded by district Superintendent John Deasy, the group has taken on two projects near to his heart: Breakfast in the Classroom and arts education. It has also attracted criticism from the teacher's union - which opposes many of Deasy's policies.

The breakfast program increased the number of elementary school students getting a morning meal by using the first 10 minutes of class to hand out a free breakfast, rather than serving it before class in school cafeterias. But many teachers complained in a union survey about pests and clean-up time.

“Of course that takes away from their planning time, for instruction,” said elementary school teacher and union member Ed Morrow, who helped orchestrate the survey.


New report says a stretched out school day helps arts programs

Math Arts

Mary Plummer/KPCC

Students at Jefferson Elementary School in Pasadena work during a math class that teaches students using art techniques.

Longer school days are a key component of improving arts education and academics in schools with low-income students, according to a new report.

The National Center on Time & Learning, a non-profit organization based in Boston, released the report, "Advancing Arts Education through an Expanded School Day: Lessons from Five Schools" earlier this month.

The report,  sponsored by the children's philanthropy group The Wallace Foundation, outlines the expanded-day arts models used by five public schools around the U.S., including Technology Charter High School in San Francisco.

Besides longer school days, the schools also extended the calendar, brought in artists in residence and incorporated arts instruction into core subjects. 

"With the right structure and supports and, significantly, the time to innovate and implement approaches that best meet the needs of all students, schools can indeed create meaningful arts education programs," according to the report.