Question: What do the chief architect of West Coast gangsta rap, and an Atlanta rapper affiliated with Young Thug, and the co-founder of Interscope Records and a former superintendent at Los Angeles Unified School District, all have in common?
Answer: Support of Proposition 28, which California voters will decide on Nov. 8.
Prop. 8, launched by former LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner and backed by a growing number of big-name entertainers and figures in Hollywood, would increase state funding to bring arts and music to public schools — to the tune of $1 billion annually. If the Arts and Music in Public Schools measure becomes law, funding would begin next year, with a greater allocation serving the state’s more economically disadvantaged students.
Rappers Dr. Dre and Lil Baby, and recorder executive James Iovine, came together on Thursday, Oct. 6 at Santa Monica High School in a forum hosted by Beutner to discuss the proposition that would require schools with 500-plus students, including public charter schools, to spend at least 80% of the state funding they receive to hire teachers. The remainder they receive would go to training, supplies and education partnerships.
“I have no idea whose idea it was to take arts and music out of schools, but I’m the prime example of why it should be here,” said Dr. Dre, who attended Compton schools. “I wouldn’t be sitting here if it was not for arts and music. I personally don’t like politics, but I’m here because of Prop 28.”
As Dr. Dre put it, “What if we have the next Beethoven or someone like that in a school, and they don’t have the access to get their ideas across … the outlet to express themselves creatively?”
Iovine also spoke passionately about the importance of music to give young people a certain inner peace and new information.
“Music and art are necessary for the soul, and without the soul engaged you are not going to be the right kind of personality in the world — making life a better place,” Iovine said to the cheers of the student audience.
“Bureaucrats think if you can take that out, we need to cut something, let’s cut music and art. That’s a gigantic mistake.”
Prop. 28 would double funding for arts and music programs, particularly at schools that serve high numbers of low-income students of color, and is expected to steer $800 million to $1 billion more to schools each year – about doubling what they get now. If approved by voters, it would dramatically expand music education for students in preschool through grade 12, starting in 2023-24.
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Because the money comes from the state’s general fund, Prop. 28 would not increase taxes on Californians. But it would mean less money for other areas of the state budget when Prop. 28 money is shifted to art programs in schools.
The measure is backed by many high-profile names including Steven A. Ballmer, Kevin Frazier, Katy Perry, Issa Rae, John Lithgow and Jeff Bridges. Several entertainment industry unions also support Prop. 28, including SAG-AFTRA, Actors’ Equity Association and the California branch of International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.
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