California Nov Ballot ‘22: Prop 28 Will Boost Arts, Music Education Funding for PK-12 Students

Manny Otiko | California Black Media

Proposition 28 is one of seven statewide initiatives on the November 8 ballot. If passed, Prop 28 will boost arts and music education funding for 6 million public school students. The proposition requires California to dedicate 1% of the education budget to arts and music programs.

If the proposition passes, it will provide approximately $1 Billion to PK-12 schools.

      Prop 28 is backed by Austin Beutner, former superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, Arne Duncan, education secretary in the Obama administration, and a broad coalition of teachers, families, artists, entrepreneurs, community leaders and labor organizations.

      Among celebrities and musicians supporting the proposition are Dr. Dre, Jimmy Iovine, John Lithgow, Issa Rae, and Will.I.Am

“This initiative is timely as our country seeks to create a more just and equitable future for all children. A boost in arts and music education will help ensure the future workforce in media and technology properly reflect the diversity of the children in our public schools,” according to a joint statement from Beutner and Duncan.

As schools adapt to tightening budgets, arts and music are often the first to go. But these programs have a profound impact on students’ academic outcomes and behavior. This was shown in a study of 10,000 students in the Houston school system by University of Missouri professor Brian Kisada and Texas A & M professor Daniel H. Bowen.

“We find that a substantial increase in arts educational experiences has remarkable impacts on students’ academic, social, and emotional outcomes. Relative to students assigned to the control group, treatment school students experienced a 3.6 percentage point reduction in disciplinary infractions, an improvement of 13 percent of a standard deviation in standardized writing scores, and an increase of 8 percent of a standard deviation in their compassion for others,” the professors wrote in their Brookings Institution article.

There is no major opposition to prop 28, but some fiscal conservatives say it could lead to an increase in property taxes.

“If Prop. 28 passes, a 1% combination of state spending, in addition to the spending of each locality through property taxes, would be solely dedicated to music and arts education,” said Ari DeWolf, educational outreach manager at the Reason Foundation, an organization that promotes libertarian values.

“California already spends $95.5 billion on its public school system, translating to around $17,000 per student. This figure puts California in the top 10 states for per-student education funding. California’s current spending on K-12 education has reached a historic high, while public school enrollment is the lowest in two decades,” according to DeWolf.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond recognizes the importance of music and arts education. $3.5 billion has been budgeted for an Arts, Music, and Instructional Materials Discretionary block grant program according to a Department of Education press release. These one-time grants will be available to county offices of education, school districts, charter schools, and the state special schools in the 2025–26 fiscal year.