Valley Oaks Elementary School music teacher Omar Anzaldua has taught in several districts — and struggled for funding in nearly all of them.
“I bought some buckets from Home Depot so we could do a bucket band,” Anzaldua said. “It’s really a struggle of scratching and trying to scratch away from everywhere.”
Help for Anzaldua and other teachers could be on the way in the form of California Proposition 28, a November ballot initiative that would increase funding for arts and music education for K-12 students in Galt and the rest of California.
If passed, the measure would mandate that the equivalent of 1% of state funds allocated to schools under Proposition 98 be dedicated to arts and music education. Schools would have to spend this money, which would be about $1 billion annually, mainly on the recruitment of art and music teachers.
Anzaldua said he wished there were more funds to buy new equipment and repair some instruments his students already play.
“I understand the prop is hiring the teachers, which is the biggest investment,” Anzaldua said. “Then continue funding for the purchase of new equipment. Some of my students play instruments that are older than me.”
According to Los Angeles Unified School District superintendent Austin Beutner, the pandemic shutdown hit arts and music education hard as students spent long periods in virtual classrooms. “It’s more relevant than ever.”
“Art and music are part of a basic education,” he said. “Every child should have the opportunity to be involved in art and music.”
He added: “You want that everywhere. The whole school community supports her. … The students are enthusiastic.”
Proposition 28 has no formal, organized opposition. However, Lance Christensen, a candidate for California state superintendent, disagrees, saying it takes money from the wrong places. Christensen says a lot of what happens with arts programs has to do with administrative decisions.
“If they really wanted art and music in the classroom, they could do it overnight,” Christensen said. “Tomorrow it would be ready. It’s just not a priority for them.”
According to Christensen, there are ways to achieve this without increasing the ballot box budget.
“If you really want to improve art and music, [colleges must] their AG requirements are changing,” Christensen said. “Have districts really consider that, so you’re not just saying it’s good because it’s art and music.”
Nayeli Chaidez, a parent of a fifth-grade student in Valley Oaks, said Proposition 28 was a simple yes for her.
“It’s not clipped by other programs… It just makes sense,” Chaidez said. “There is so much surplus” in the state budget, she added.
A focus on arts education helps build student confidence. According to Chaidez, music and arts education are just as important as other areas of study and deserve additional funding.
“I think it all ties together; then they transfer it to the other issues,” said Chaidez. “That could be the case for a lot of kids if it’s provided by the school.”
dr Clay Redfield, director of music education at the School of Music at California State University, Sacramento, said that a strong foundation in music education from an early age can be powerful.
“Music is an important part of every culture in the world,” Redfield said. “(It) has been a powerful universal system of language and notation throughout history, a positive emotional outlet for young people … a subject that has its greatest success when introduced early in the opportunity, much like language acquisition. “
Redfield oversees the Sacramento State Music Teacher Preparation Program. He graduated from Sacramento State and has been involved in music education for 36 years. He has taught music at all levels from kindergarten through graduate school. His whole family are educators.
“If more funding is allocated to arts education, particularly if that funding is dedicated to hiring more music educators, then it stands to reason that more students will have the opportunity to study music.”
Carson March, a 23-year-old Sacramento resident who recently graduated from the University of Hawai’i, said the music and art classes he took shaped him into who he is today. He said other students should have the same opportunity.
“Art and music classes really helped me settle in,” March said. “As a young man going through the educational system, the art and music classes really helped me find my passions in life… everyone should be given an equal opportunity.”