Protect the Arts Education Branch of the Los Angeles Unified School District

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    Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education Members: Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte, Monica Garcia, Tamar Galatzan, Marlene Canter, Yolie Flores-Aguilar, Julie Korenstein, Dr. Richard Vladovic; Superintendent Of Schools Ramon C. Cortines; Chief
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    Elementary Arts Teachers of Los Angeles Unified School District
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     In the current economic state, LAUSD is faced with difficult choices of how to meet budget requirements. Granted, there are many administrative positions within LAUSD that are less than efficient and should be consolidated, and moving administrators back into the classroom may be a sound idea in many cases. However, a drastic restructuring, reduction, or decentralization of administrative support within the LAUSD Arts Education Branch (AEB) will have direct negative consequences on the education of LAUSD students. This is an example where a scalpel, not an ax, must be used when making cuts. As concerned teachers, parents, students, community members, and citizens, we urge the Board Members and the Superintendent to take extreme care in preserving the core administrative structure of the Arts Education Branch.

     The Arts Education Branch, under Richard Burrows' leadership, is responsible for overseeing and implementing LAUSD's Arts Education Plan, Board of Education Resolution June 22, 1999, which includes coordinating and developing the Elementary Arts Program, the largest, most comprehensive and widely respected public arts program in our nation. This Program is dedicated to the goal of providing every LAUSD student with a "comprehensive, quality visual and performing arts education program that includes instruction in dance, music, theatre and visual arts using a sequential standards-based curriculum taught by qualified teachers and incorporates the cultural resources of the community. "

     The quality and rigor of our current Elementary Arts Program is a result of a collaboration between Elementary Arts Teachers and AEB administrators. Elementary Arts Teachers are currently teaching in 392 schools, and provide their services to a maximum of (7) seven schools throughout the year. Arts Specialists, the discipline-guiding administrators of the AEB, provide vital stewardship to Elementary Arts Teachers. Scheduling would become extremely difficult without a central administrator creating the master calendar; and maintaining a common drive, with the shared input of arts teachers, would also be compromised with a decentralized administration. Left to the guidance of site-based administrators or a decentralized base of administrative support, it would be extremely difficult for the District to continue to develop and implement an arts program that effectively pursues the outcome of providing highly qualified arts educators and quality arts curriculum to all LAUSD students in all elementary schools.

     Dismantling the administrative structure of the Arts Education Branch and Elementary Arts Program might also compromise a $600,000 grant made by the Wallace Foundation in 2008. This grant was given to support LAUSD in development of a second 10-year plan for arts education, to build on its first successful decade of expanding arts instruction throughout the district. The Wallace Foundation, which ranks among the nation 's top 40 foundations, has dedicated $1.8 million countywide to "support activities crucial to strengthening coordinated arts learning efforts and to bring high-quality arts experiences to more young people in Los Angeles County". We urge you to do everything in your power to preserve this partnership with the Wallace Foundation.

How the Arts Education Branch supports LAUSD students:

*Supports the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and the California Department of Education Code which
recognize the Visual and Performing Arts as core academic subjects.
*Imagine every student in LAUSD receiving high quality arts instruction in all four arts disciplines - dance, music, theatre and visual arts. With this goal in mind, the nationally recognized Elementary Arts Program has grown and developed in each of its 10 years. After 10 years, full implementation is in sight. Elementary Arts Teachers are now in 80\% of all L.A.U.S.D. Elementary Schools. Any cuts in arts teachers or days spent per school would deny students equal access to rigorous standards-based and sequential instruction in the arts.
*Currently 165,000 students per week receive instruction in all four Arts forms.
*Currently we provide ongoing, standards-based professional development in best teaching practices,
ELD, SDAIE, Language Arts, CRRE, and differentiated instructional techniques to over 4500 classroom
teachers every week.
*Arts teachers are a unique resource to classroom teachers and can introduce teachers to creative ways to infuse arts into the curriculum to make learning more accessible.
*The Arts give classroom teachers unique opportunities to assess and connect to students in a creative context, where students' strengths and personalities truly emerge.
*Arts instruction teaches strategies for higher order thinking skills and creative cognitive development.
*The arts program directly supports literacy instruction in OCR and across content areas aligning with comprehension strategies and skills, as well as writing and literary elements strands.
*The Arts develop listening and speaking skills.
*The Arts foster collaboration and a sense of community.
*Arts instruction develops empathy through connections and exploring many perspectives.
*The Arts bring curriculum to life and motivate students to read, enjoy stories, and enjoy school!
*The Arts make learning fun and personal.

A fully functioning Arts Education Program provides:

*Opportunities to contribute to the definition of today's culture and civilization.
*Opportunities for creative thinking and expression that are missing from many classroom activities and curriculum.
*Opportunities to create which build confidence and self-esteem. That, in turn, sets up students for success in all other areas.
*Engagement of learner in all areas of curriculum via high level of motivation.
*Exposure to professional artists and the arts.
*Improved test scores as students are highly motivated to come to school with an openness to learning.
*Increased attendance - the arts might be the only reason many kids want to come to school.


     The arts are an indispensable part of a decent, rigorous education. They are a powerful factor in motivating student interest in school. Arts participation takes many forms and confers a wide range of benefits on both individuals and communities. These benefits will be most fully realized if people have meaningful arts experiences as children. At the acceptance of the Wallace Grant, former Superintendent David L. Brewer spoke of the District moving "closer to the guarantee of every Angelino student's right to a comprehensive, coherent, sequential arts education". We need to make sure the District continues to pursue this goal on behalf of our students. We must maintain the administration of the Arts Education Branch in order to make this goal achievable. Students will suffer without your careful decision making and understanding. Even amidst the current challenges facing all of us, we have great HOPE for the future of LAUSD's Arts Education Program.


Please keep this Program alive. Thank you.