Testimony given by Joe Landon, Alliance Policy Director, before the Education Committee hearing on AB 2446
I speak today on behalf of the California Alliance for Arts Education, a statewide coalition of parents, teachers, business and community leaders, arts organizations and concerned citizens, committed to ensuring that arts education is a core component of a quality education that every student in our state should receive.
In my experience as Policy Director, I have learned that arts education has no enemies. Everyone you talk to willingly expresses their support for the arts, tells stories of how it has impacted their lives or the lives of their children or friends. Clearly, the intent of this bill and its author is not to do harm to arts learning, but to provide greater access to career technical education.
No one questions that arts education cultivates creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking—all touted as hallmark skills for success in the 21st-century workforce, or that the arts promote better questioning skills, more-focused periods of intense concentration, and greater understanding of problems that have multiple answers – all skills which promote success across all subject areas.
No one doubts that the arts reach out to the very students who might be most likely to drop out because they feel no connection to their education.
And no one wants students to go through their entire high school education without having to take one course in the arts or foreign language. But that’s what this bill would do.
We oppose this bill because it pits one subject area against another, because it creates access for career tech by undermining access for arts education as part of the core education that every student should be exposed to. At a time when arts education programs are being cut in districts throughout the state, it sends the message that though we care about the arts, we are willing to push arts education a little more to the side, a little harder for students to get to, a little less part of a well rounded education.
We reject the notion of the relation between arts education and career tech as either/or, and that’s what this bill does. We support and work closely with Career Technical Education’s Arts, Media and Entertainment pathway, providing a blueprint for preparation for students wishing to pursue arts related careers.
We support the Committee’s analysis of the bill, suggesting that the committee consider a more comprehensive review and revision of the high school graduation requirements, to ensure that graduates are embarking on the next stage of their lives with the skills they need to qualify for either postsecondary school education or family-wage career paths.
Last year, when Assemblyman Furutani introduced a similar bill, we made these same arguments. Back then, it all seemed to make sense and he amended the bill so that it would do no harm to arts education. Clearly, these are difficult times, and people can change their minds and while it’s clear that he has, what won’t change is the impact of this bill.
For the sake of our state, our future work force, and our students’ futures, we cannot afford to take short cuts that will ultimately lead our state into even bigger deficits in terms of financial as well as human capital and resources.
We urge a ‘no’ vote on AB 2446.