Californians approve big funding boost for arts education

California voters on Tuesday approved a ballot measure backed by a celebrity lineup that included Barbra Streisand and Los Angeles-born rappers and Dr. Dre that could pump as much as $1 billion a year from the state’s general fund into arts education.

The measure had faced no organized opposition, a rarity. With about a quarter of the ballots counted, Proposition 28 won handily with 75.8% of the vote. It will 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 said 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 will send 30% of the earmarked money to low-income school districts, which have a large number of Black and Latino students.

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