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Walking down a busy street in San Pedro, a suburb of Los Angeles, students waved signs above their heads and urged passing cars to support their cause. “Honk for 28!” they shouted. “Go to 28.”
The rally was about California’s Proposition 28, a ballot measure aimed at pumping at least $800 million into K-12 arts and music programs.
It comes with an interesting selling point: It won’t increase taxes. That’s another reason no one is raising money to defeat the measure — a relief to former Los Angeles schools chief Austin Beutner, who led efforts to get the question on the ballot and donated more than $4 million. for good.
As a manager, he and the labor unions often clashed. But on that first day in October, union members joined him to ask the managers of the sandwich shop and breakfast place to hang campaign signs in their windows.
“We just want to make sure people know what Prop 28 is,” Beutner said, adding he was encouraged by the positive reception the measure has received. “It’s been a long time since we’ve had the California community support public education.”
From New Mexico to Massachusetts, voters will decide on several education-related measures when they go to the polls Nov. 8. Many propose raising taxes for additional school funds, but others can decide whether all students should receive free meals or whether they are legislators. it can override the state board’s policy.
However, California’s arts scene is at a higher level, attracting support from some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry. To promote the project, Beutner shared the stage with rappers Dr. Dre and Lil Baby. In San Pedro, “Lord of the Rings” actor Sean Astin got involved.
“Our members fully support art and music education in schools. That’s what we’ve built our lives and our careers on,” said Astin, who represents the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. “We think that every child, every student it’s worth it [to be] exposed to art and music in their public schools.”
‘The biggest impact’
Twenty-three states now provide financial aid for arts education or have an arts school, according to the Arts Education Partnership, a project of the Education Commission of the States. But generally, states don’t need to fund them, said Mary Dell’Erba, the Partnership’s assistant director. Some countries support the arts through license fees or lottery grants.
He said that Proposition 28 is unique, not only because of the amount of money it will generate, but it prioritizes arts funding in the state budget.
Called Arts and Music in the Schools, the measure will require that 1% of what the government is legally required to spend on education go to the arts. In years of declining incomes, funding would not decrease more than the general K-12 budget.
Eighty percent of the funds would go to art teachers. Although all schools would receive funding, 30% would target low-income schools.
For Malissa Shriver, chairwoman of Turnaround Arts: California — a nonprofit that supports school improvement through the arts — it’s huge. When his program started, he said it was difficult to find schools that meet the needs of the organization to recruit teachers with art degrees.
He credited Beutner for “knowing how to get money out of administrative costs” and for designing the proposal “in a way that would have a big impact.” Only 1% can be used for administration and the rest can go to equipment or teacher training.
He argues that along with student achievement in math and reading, creative expression can help students reintegrate socially and emotionally after months of isolation.
But even if the measure passes, it will face problems. One is for workers.
“Just because there is a need for teacher funding doesn’t mean there will be teachers to hire,” Dell’Erba said.
Some columnists criticized the approach as “ballot box budgeting” and said the state shouldn’t be telling local school boards how to spend money.
‘Be what we want to be’
Beutner’s struggle stems from his own experience. A shy elementary school student, she gained confidence after learning to play the cello in fifth grade.
He said: “I could sing in front of thousands of people before I could speak in front of tens of people. It all started with that sense of worth.
The San Pedro High 12th graders who campaigned with her that day – some in cheerleading uniforms, others holding handmade signs – agreed.
Miki Vasquez, senior, said art and music “allow us to be who we want to be.”
Chris Soto said he would take a guitar class if it was available. And Isabella Menzel, the first campaigner, exclaimed, “This is the greatest joy I have ever had.”
Another student brought copies of “Lord of the Rings” for Astin to sign. After singing with the students for a few blocks, Astin quickly left. Now a graduate student at American University in Washington, studying public administration and policy, she said she has homework to do. “I have an interview due in six hours.”
Other national measures
While Proposition 28 may be the most powerful ballot measure, it’s not the only education initiative coming before voters on Nov. 8. Here’s a summary of the rest:
Colorado: The Healthy Schools Meals for All program will fully reimburse districts for providing free breakfast and lunch to students, regardless of family income. It will increase the salaries of school nutrition workers and provide training and equipment to make meals from scratch. To pay for the program, the plan will reduce the tax deduction for those making $300,000 or more. There is no formal opposition to the measure, but one lawmaker who voted against putting it on the ballot said he has a “fundamental problem” with providing meals for students whose parents are able to pay.
Idaho: An advisory question on the ballot asks voters whether they approve or disapprove of HB 1, a law passed this year that would change the structure of the tax rate to free up $410 million annually for public schools. The ballot measure describes the additional funding as “the single largest investment in public education in Idaho history.” According to HB 1, the outcome of the election will guide the legislature on whether the changes become permanent. But one political analyst described the non-binding proposal as a campaign ad for Gov. Brad Little and lawmakers who supported the bill.
Massachusetts: Question 1 would change the state constitution to tax millions of people 4% more than the existing 5% tax. According to supporters, the Fair Share Amendment would raise about $2 billion for public schools, higher education, road maintenance and public transportation. They say more money is needed to address the educational inequality that has grown as a result of the epidemic. The Coalition to Stop the Tax Hike Amendment says the measure is misleading because it would apply to one-time transactions like selling a home. They also say it will allow lawmakers to create new tax burdens and higher fees that will ultimately hurt the middle class.
New Mexico: Amendment 1 would set aside approximately $150 million annually from the State Permanent School Fund for early childhood education and approximately $100 million for teacher compensation and student service programs. risk of failure. The fund comes from oil and gas revenues and investment income. The move seeks to increase the fund’s allocation from 5% to 6.25%.
If voters approve it, the measure would need final approval from the US Congress because early childhood education was not one of the permitted uses written into federal law. There is no formal opposition to the measure, but a Republican lawmaker who voted against putting it on the ballot said taking more money out of the fund would leave fewer resources for the state’s children.
Voters will decide Bond Question 3, which would authorize about $216 million for major projects, including tribal schools, a child mental health center and an Albuquerque elementary school which serves deaf children.
Rhode Island: Question 2, put on the ballot by the state legislature, asks voters to authorize $250 million for school construction and renovations. .
West Virginia: The state legislature will get the final say on any laws or policies passed by the Board of Education if voters approve Amendment 4. Republicans in the legislature pressed the issue, he argued that the regulations governing schools should be left to those chosen by the voters, not the elected. the board. But opponents, including former state Superintendent Clayton Burch and Miller Hall, a former state board president, argue the proposed change will make education more partisan and lead to disagreements. when education due to changes in the legislature.
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