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

Portrait in numbers of LAUSD's decline in arts education

Graffiti Artist

Grant Slater/KPCC

L.A. plans to unveil a major initiative to save public arts education. Meanwhile, L.A. Unified's school board is looking at a measure that would make arts a "core subject."

In the last three years, Los Angeles Unified has had to cut nearly $1.5 billion from its annual operating budget, which is now roughly $6 billion. "Arts education is one of the most impacted components of LAUSD instruction as a result," according to the district.

I'm still working on getting specific breakdowns on arts education funding from L.A. Unified, but in the meantime, here are some numbers the district had handy.

In 2008, L.A. Unified employed 345 art specialist teachers — the district called that year its "peak." Now there are 204 art specialist teachers for more than 580,000 students (not including those in charters).

That breaks down to about one art specialist for every 2,800 students. The district says that teachers travel from school to school to fill gaps.

Since 2008, the district has cut arts education at elementary schools by 40%.

  • The district says 53% of more than 272,000 students in kindergarten through fifth grade will not receive any arts instruction in elementary school.
  • About 75% of about 129,000 students in the sixth through eighth grades will not receive any arts instruction in middle school. The district adds that "most middle schools have no art teacher (primarily due to budget cuts)."
  • About half the district's more than 180,000 high school students will not receive any arts instruction in high school. 

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South LA Schools team up to fight reconsitution

The conflict between activists and LA Unified Superintendent John Deasy over the district’s reconstitution of Dorsey High School is coming to a head. Just as the final deadline to prevent a school takeover looms for Dorsey (it has until Oct. 31 to submit a school reform plan), Crenshaw High School faces a similar process.

That’s why the two South LA schools joined forces and organized a public meeting tonight to inform Crenshaw parents and students about the disctrict's effort to reform underachieving schools. 

LA Unified can reconstitute a school when it fails to meet state-mandated educational benchmarks under the federal No Child Left Behind act. That means the district can lay off the entire staff at a school and make everyone re-apply for their jobs. Those who are re-hired must sign contracts that includes provisions based on student performance on standardized tests.

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UC Riverside Chancellor Timothy White chosen to lead 23-campus California State University system

Timothy White

Steven Cuevas/KPCC

Timothy White

After four years as head of U.C. Riverside, Timothy White is leaving that job to become chancellor of the massive California State University system. Cal State made the announcement Thursday after it completed final interviews earlier this week.

White becomes the seventh chancellor of the Cal State system. He’ll take over the nation’s largest university system amid major budget cuts, tuition increases, and reductions in courses and enrollment that have affected the system’s 427,000 students.

“I actually feel very humbled, very honored, very grateful but also very prepared in order to go forward,” White said in a conference call announcing his appointment.

Exiting Cal State chancellor Charles Reed praised White’s selection. “I am really pleased and proud that the board has selected somebody that really understands the California State University mission,” Reed said.

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LAUSD considers making arts education a 'core subject'

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Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/KPCC

LA Unified's school board is considering a measure that would make arts education a 'core subject.'

The L.A. Unified school board will vote on a measure Tuesday that would make arts education a "core subject," prohibit further cuts to the arts, and ultimately restore some money to arts programs. 

The measure, sponsored by board member Nury Martinez, would require Superintendent John Deasy to return to the board by July 1 with a plan on implementing "Arts at the Core" that includes funding strategies, ways to collect data to measure student learning through the arts, professional development for instructors, and benchmarks for success.

Arts education has found itself on the chopping block during district budget discussions as state support for it has declined in the last several years.

This measure requires a restoration of arts education funds to 2007-8 funding levels within five years. Within 10 years it aims to increase the number of arts teachers to match similar urban school districts so that each middle school can offer at least three arts disciplines. 

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Educator with local roots picked to take over troubled Inglewood Unified

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez

California’s State Superintendent announced Wednesday he’s chosen Kent Taylor, the current superintendent of Southern Kern Unified, to take over administration of the fiscally troubled Inglewood Unified School District.

This summer the school district requested and state legislators approved a bailout loan that kept the district from insolvency and stripped the 12,000-student district of local control.

The announcement caps a years-long process - led by the board of education and local superintendent - of budget cutting, loans, LA County oversight, and finally a state bailout. Inglewood Unified’s board room was standing-room-only with education activists, employee union leaders, and elected officials. They were there to witness the school district lose local control for the first time in its 58-year history.

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