Archive for October, 2011

Response to the Governor’s Actions on Education Bills

October 10, 2011

A message from Joe Landon, Executive Director of the California Alliance for Arts Education

Awakening to the news that AB 1330 had been signed and SB 547 vetoed makes me grateful for the spirit of resilience that arts education provides. Anyone who’s learned to play a musical instrument or rehearsed a dramatic scene or studied dance or painting technique knows that setbacks come with the territory, and the grit and determination required to pick oneself up after being knocked down or frustrated by disappointment. It’s all about holding onto that greater aspiration.

There’s no pretty way to put it. We got thumped on AB 1330 (Furutani), outgunned by labor and business interests committed to providing some semblance of  legitimacy for Career Technical Education in the curriculum, even if at the expense of arts education and foreign language.  As we’ve said all along, we regard career tech as essential in a complete education that prepares students for the future. We also strongly believe that students lose when one subject matter is pitted against another.  We fought long and hard against this bill, and in the end we came up short.

Our other disappointment came in the Governor’s veto of SB 547 (Steinberg). In his veto message, Governor Brown praised “student excitement and creativity”, even though, in his judgement “they can’t be placed in a data stream. ” The good news about SB 547 is that, for the first time,  ‘creativity and innovation’ was included in a system of accountability for our schools. Our position is that one begins to track something as elusive as creativity by identifying learning opportunities in which innovation and creativity may be cultivated. To that end we applaud Senator Steinberg for identifying ‘creativity’ as an essential component of education, and again recognize the vision of Senator Curren Price, who was there first with SB 789, legislation intended to develop an “Index of Creativity and Innovation” and who became a co-author of the Steinberg bill.

What the journey has taught us is that we have many more allies than we knew we had. In particular, Public Advocates, a statewide law firm fighting the root causes of poverty and discrimination, stood with the Alliance throughout three years of opposition to the Furutani bill.  With the Steinberg bill, we have cultivated constructive, informed relationships with Senate leadership and within the Department of Education, using the development of the creativity index to deepen understanding of the critical role of arts education. And we have enjoyed the passionate support of Arts for LA, California Arts Advocates, The California Arts Council, Members of our Policy Council and advocates throughout the state who fought tirelessly with us to promote our cause.

But wait! There’s good news in all those bill signings and vetoes. SB 612 (Steinberg) was signed into law by the Governor. The significance of this bill is that it formally designates the California Arts Project as one of the six topical subject matter projects of the University of California. That’s good news for arts education!

Joe Landon
Executive Director
California Alliance for Arts Education