LBUSD Parents Speak in Support of the Arts

Thu, 03/29/2012 (All day)
Advocacy Team (if applicable): 

LBUSD logoOn March 20th, four Long Beach parents provided public comment to the Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) Board of Education in support of the district’s arts programs.  The parents presented in response to proposed cuts to arts teachers and the possible elimination of elementary arts under the recently adopted worst-case scenario fiscal stabilization plan.

Earlier in the month, the LBUSD Board of Education approved two fiscal stabilization plans that assume a best-case and worst-case scenario.  Under the best-case fiscal plan the district (with an operating budget of $700 million) assumes it will only lose approximately $19 million in state funds if the November statewide tax initiative included in Governor Brown’s Budget Proposal is successful. The worst-case scenario assumes the failure of the November tax initiative, which will result in an additional $29 million in cuts. For more information please read our previous story here.


The following are excerpts of the public testimony provided by the parents:


Dr. Peter Knapp, parent and Music Theory and History teacher at Long Beach City College, spoke strongly and eloquently of the vital need for a “well-rounded mind, because study after study has demonstrated the academic excellence of students involved in the arts. I witness this success daily at the college with the music majors, ­ easily some of the busiest students on campus, but also some of the most engaged students in their academic skills: critical thinking, public presentation, creative problem solving, time management, and discipline. Strong K-12 art and music programs contributed significantly to the beginning of their success.”



Lia Fletcher, a childbirth educator and mother of two Long Beach students, spoke of the importance of the music program for her daughter, “it gives her focus, provides her with a creative outlet and keeps her occupied.” She continued, “if the music program didn’t exist she will still have access to music [outside school] but my heart bleeds for those kids who, without the school programs, would not.”





Local business owner and parent, Elisabeth Desmidt, spoke to the board about her concern for disadvantaged youth, “who without these programs will have no exposure to the arts.”  Mrs. Desmidt described her personal struggle in school due to a learning disability, “visual arts are the way I learn best, and the only thing that kept me in school.” She added, “I know there are other students like myself.” The skills I learned through art “gave me the confidence and creativity to build a business.”




Jacqui Viale, teacher and former PTA president, described the importance of arts education to her development and life path, “I am not a musician but I know how to read music. I am not an artist but I know how to shade and judge perspective in my drawings. I am a product of public schools from kindergarten through graduate school, and I had music and art in my life because of that.” She concluded that, “with the cuts to elementary music, the kids whose parents can afford instruments and lessons will still get them and those that can't, won't. And they will not have the chance to open up a whole other world of experiences.” To read her entire testimony in the Belmont Shore-Naples Patch please click here.


Click here to watch video of the entire March 20th Board Meeting.

Arts for LA will continue providing updates on the LBUSD budget process and its effects on arts programs as they become available.