There's More Arts Education than You Might Expect, But Not For Everyone

Read or listen to the full KPCC piece HERE.

by Carla Javier, Arts Education Reporter KPCC 

More arts education is being offered to more students than previously assumed – 89.6 percent of elementary schools–and 92.7 percent of secondary schools–offer at least some arts instruction during the school day to students. 

That's according to the Los Angeles County Arts Commission's arts education arm's recently-released county-wide survey of schools and districts' arts education offerings. 

The findings were surprising to many advocates, given a common perception that the arts are often the first to go when schools have limited funds. 

"We now know with the data that is not the case," said Denise Grande, head of the LA County Arts Ed Collective. "If every parent or every stakeholder looks at what's happening in their neighborhood school, they can walk in from a place of strength and say, 'There are lots of other schools in our district that are doing this well. Let's look at those schools for examples of how that work can happen for my children in my school.'"

While the study didn't look into causes for the unexpectedly high number of arts education offerings, Grande said she thinks efforts by schools and districts to increase their arts offerings likely played a part.

"Some districts cut the arts. Many others did not," Grande explained. "And in the middle of that is this idea that over the past five years many districts have been working hard to increase what [arts instruction] was already in place."

Another possible explanation, according to Grande: increases in funding.

"We know that as more money has been flowing into the school system since Proposition 30 [a ballot measure that sent money to public schools]," Grande said. "Districts are continuing to look for ways to increase arts education."

While the survey demonstrated a surprisingly high level of arts instruction happening in LA County schools, there's still work to do.