Prop 28 illustration

(Jocelyn Andrade / Daily Titan)

Arts and music education is students’ gateway to creativity, but when the economy faces financial downturns, these programs are the first to get cut from school budgets. California voters should vote “yes” on Proposition 28 to ensure that arts and music education receive guaranteed funding for both students and instructors.

Proposition 28 assists the arts and music programs by receiving guaranteed funding for K-12 schools. These funds would go toward hiring arts and music instructors, providing students with proper equipment and meeting other needs to provide students with quality education, said Mary Louise Uys, an instrumental music teacher in the Fullerton School District.

This year’s proposition would ensure that at least 1% of Proposition 98 funds will be directed toward arts and music programs. Proposition 98 sets a minimum level of funding for public schools and community colleges.  Thus, Proposition 28 declares that a portion of these funds will be allocated toward arts and music education. 

“That guaranteed funding could be a gamechanger for a lot of communities whose districts maybe don’t see the importance of this,” said Michael Despars, theatrical arts director at Fullerton Union High School.

Yet, those that oppose the proposition argue that it  may lead to cuts in safety net programs during recessions, according to an article by the San Diego Tribune. This may especially be a risk for California because the Legislative Analyst’s Office warns that the state may face its fourth recession soon. 

By voting “yes” the music and arts programs receive funding and what we pay to the state would be unaffected. It also would not affect the amount of funds that are allocated towards public education. 

The benefits to voting “yes” outweigh the reasons to vote “no.” Teachers and students greatly benefit from the music and art programs as it helps teachers stay employed in a subject they enjoy teaching and students get to express themselves.

Without the worry of raising taxes, there is no reason to deny students a learning experience where they can express themselves and learn about subjects outside of the core ones.

“I just want everyone to know that this is not a tax. It’s taking existing funding and ensuring that there are opportunities for students. That is at the core of what this proposition is about,” Despars said.

Arts and music programs currently receive funding from state and local budgets, despite being the first to be cut from local budgets during economic downturns.

“Either getting laid off from a job or a teaching job or just saying ‘Your position’s no longer available,’ those kind of things are reality to music educators and arts educators as well,” said Patrick Johnston, an elementary-level music educator in Fullerton.

When the arts and music programs get their funding cut, it puts teachers in a difficult position where they lose their jobs. Currently, only one in five California public schools have a full-time arts or music programs.

The arts and music programs are already at a disadvantage when it comes to funding. With Proposition 28 offering a solution to such an issue, it is within California voters’ best interest to vote “yes.”

Uys said that out of 20 schools in the district, there are only four music instructors that teach both junior high schools and four to five elementary schools each.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, three out of the four instructors retired due to the challenges of online teaching. But Uys kept her position as a music educator despite these challenges.

“It’s very challenging to be able to teach junior high and then also get to your elementaries and teach them, so pandemic or not, it’s a challenging job,” Uys said.

When school districts lose a sufficient number of arts and music instructors, currently employed instructors are impacted the most. This results in more work, more hours and more schools to cover.

Proposition 28 would improve the quality of arts and music education for both students and teachers. With guaranteed funds, school districts can hire more full-time instructors, provide students with specialized equipment and enable students to go on field trips to observe professionals in the creative arts.

Arts and music education is essential for helping students build skills such as goal-setting, team work and tackling unexpected challenges, said Troy Trimble, an instrumental music teacher at Fullerton Union High School.

On the Nov. 8 Election Day, vote ‘yes’ to help school districts employ more full-time creative arts instructors and ease the workload for instructors in underserved school districts. 

Show your support for students and teachers in the creative arts and help ensure they receive better funding. With it not raising taxes, that is one less thing California voters have to worry about after the election.

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