Prop 28 proposes increase to arts education funding

Proposition 28, a measure on the ballot in the Nov. 8 election, could increase annual state funding of art education for K-12 public schools in California by approximately $1 billion. Under Proposition 28, an additional 1% of the state and local funding that public schools receive each year would be set aside for arts education, including graphic art, theater and music classes, according to voter election materials.

For schools of more than 500 students, like TPHS, at least 80% of the funding must be spent to employ arts education teachers.

The news was music to music teacher Amy Gelb’s ears.

“One of the most valuable things that my music liaisons help me raise money for is bringing in artist residents to help me during my classes,” Gelb said. “I have a violin coach [who] comes in. While I am teaching the ensemble, she will pull out groups of kids and give them individualized help which helps
me cover more ground in each class.”

With the funding that Proposition 28 would provide, Gelb hopes to employ these artist specialists for more classes. Currently, aside from Gelb’s salary, the music program, from the chairs in the music classroom to the sheet music, is funded almost entirely by donations, according to TPHS Principal Rob
Coppo. The music room’s piano alone cost $18,000 while individual sheet music can be anywhere from $80 to $200, according to Gelb.

“If we were to have some kind of funding that would ease up the stress of my job … I would think that my students would feel less pressure as well because they wouldn’t have to be fundraising as much. They could just focus on their art,” Gelb said.

Of the state funding, 70% will be allocated to schools in the state based on enrollment. The other 30% will be given to schools based on their low-income student enrollment. Only 1% of this funding can be used by local school boards for administration purposes.

Under Proposition 28, school site principals will be charged with developing a plan for spending the additional funding.

At TPHS, Coppo said he is not sure yet where the funding will be allocated if this proposition passes. He said he would first need to assess art resources, including visual art supplies, props in the theater department and computers for digital art before making a decision.

Some students are hopeful that if Prop. 28 gets passed, a greater awareness will be brought to the arts at TPHS.

“I feel like art and creativity should be more focused [on] in school because … I think every subject requires some sort of creativity,” Tisya Nair (12), a student in AP 2D Art and Design, said. “Our [art] buildings are not as great as our other buildings … Right now, we don’t have canvases so we have to bring our own or reuse canvases. Ms. O’Brien uses her own money to buy us supplies.”

Other art students have had experiences similar to Nair’s and believe that a greater focus on the arts at TPHS could draw more students to art-focused extracurricular activities.

“The classrooms in band have maybe 20 students when the average student count for a normal class is 40,” Scarlett Hyun, a flute player in the Wind Ensemble, said. “Through the funding, I hope more students are going to be affected by [art] and actually learn about music.”

Coppo, who majored in film in college at NYU, agreed with Hyun, saying that “arts are a core subject” that “fuel all of the other subjects.” He thinks that the proposition is likely to pass.

Proposition 28 affects more than just high schools. Gelb, who believes that many students are getting into music “way too late,” is excited that more money will be directed toward art programs for students in middle and elementary schools if the proposition passes.

“We’re getting a shot in the arm for the arts and nobody’s fighting it. That speaks volumes,” Coppo said. “We can hopefully take another step forward to seeing the arts not as something extra but as something essential.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous post Female enrollment in advanced STEM courses increases
Next post TPHS alumna to open plastic free grocery store