California voters to decide on boosting arts education

Dr. Dre performs in the Pepsi Halftime Show during the NFL Super Bowl LVI football game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium on Feb. 13, 2022 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

A ballot measure backed by a celebrity lineup that includes Barbra Streisand and Los Angeles-born rappers will.i.am and Dr. Dre could pump as much as $1 billion a year from California’s general fund into arts education.

Voters on Tuesday will decide on the measure that has faced no organized opposition, a rarity. It would require the state to provide the equivalent of 1% of California’s state funding for public schools from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade for the arts.

Supporters say it would benefit public school programs that go beyond the traditional art, theater, dance and music classes to include graphic design, computer coding, animation, music composition and script writing.

Despite California’s vibrant arts and music scene that has given the world everything from Hollywood to surf rock, fewer than a quarter of its public schools have a full-time arts or music education teacher, and some schools offer no such classes at all.

The measure would send 30% of the earmarked money to low-income school districts, which have a large number of Black and Latino students.

It is backed by everyone from Austin Beutner, the former superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, to the Los Angeles County Business Federation.

Some critics have expressed concerns about earmarking more money from the state’s general fund when California faces many other challenges, from homelessness to wildfires.