LAUSD's Curriculum & Instruction Committee Says Arts Ed Program Will Not Achieve Equity for Students

Tue, 06/24/2014 (All day)

Art educates LAThe Los Angeles Unified School District's Curriculum and Instruction Committee met this morning to explore, among other topics, the plan to distribute arts education throughout the district.  In advance of the meeting, Gerardo Loera, director of curriculum and instruction for LAUSD, compiled a report to help the committee identify where arts instruction is currently offered  It appeared to be the most detailed version of this information provided to date.

Committee Chair Mónica Ratliff thanked Mr. Loera and staff for compiling the data on arts education offerings and explained it would be useful in demonstrating to school sites where they fall in terms of arts education equity across the district.  Some schools feel they may be getting "the short end of the stick," she theorized, when they are actually getting "the long end."

Committee member Steve Zimmer, in reviewing the information, noted LAUSD’s “access to a robust and comprehensive arts education at the elementary level is incomplete at best…None of us should be okay with that.”  Mr. Zimmer underscored the need for greater equity in LAUSD's service to students. “Access to arts education should not be a matter of privilege or luck.”

Committee member Quynh Nguyen, BOC secretary and parent of an LAUSD student, suggested the district include the information about arts education offerings on the arts webpage to help parents understand the distribution of arts programs in the district.  

Ms. Ratliff reminded Mr. Loera the committee asked in April and May for financial information on different models of arts instruction delivery.  The administration has plans to pilot a special nine-week rotation of arts disciplines in a few schools for the coming year.  Ms. Ratliff has repeatedly requested to see the financial reality of other models, like a semester-to-semester or annual rotation, might look like.  She believes the nine-week rotation will enhance existing deficiencies in access to arts education.

In exploring the issues in the arts curriculum, Ms. Ratliff said, “We have to do something to ensure our students are exposed to more of the arts,” not just a single discipline.  She expressed concern about cuts to discrete arts instruction for kindergarten and first grades where arts integration strategies might be expected to take up significant slack in the curriculum.

Committee member and PTA member Scott Folsom said he is concerned “there isn’t enough [arts] curriculum or enough [arts] instruction for the kids in this district.” He also observed the current plan relies too heavily on consultants and not enough on classroom teachers, supplies, and instruction plans.  He agreed a nine-week rotation is not in the best interest of students.  “This isn’t good enough,” he said, but acknowledged the fault did not lie with Mr. Loera in particular.  “We need to move forward more aggressively in how we implement Arts at the Core.”

The full board is set to convene tonight for a special budget-related meeting.

For a summary of information provided to the Curriculum and Instruction Committee today, visit KPCC for more indepth coverage.  You can also review the Superintendent's Final Budget on LAUSD's website.