Historical Context

Updated: December 2010

The following is a timeline of important policy developments in California arts education during recent decades.

California Arts Education Policy – Recent History

SB1076 (Price) Authorizes taxpayers to designate on their tax returns that a specified amount in excess of their tax liability be transferred to the California Arts Council Fund to support their efforts.

Publication of policy paper: Landon, Joe & Powell Russell, Dana. (2010). Both/and: Understanding the vital link between the arts and career technical education in California schools. Pasadena, CA: California Alliance for Arts Education.

Education Budget: School districts were granted flexibility in spending for many categorical funded programs, including the Arts and Music Block Grant Funds, resulting in many districts reallocating those funds for purposes other than the visual and performing arts.

Publication of policy paper: Stites, R., Bland, J., & Campbell, A. (2009). Achieving balance in districtwide arts assessment systems: A review of issues and promising approaches. Menlo Park, CA: SRI International.

Publication of policy paper: Landon, Joe & Powell Russell, Dana. (2008). Accountability in arts education: building a statewide system of reciprocity. Pasadena, CA: California Alliance for Arts Education.

Arts Education Strategic Task Force
Visual and Performing Arts Added to School Accountability Report Card
Arts Block Grants (ongoing) Sustained with Additional Accountability.

Arts Block Grants (ongoing and one-time)
$105 million in ongoing funding for visual and performing arts and $500 million in one-time funding for physical education and visual and performing arts.

Publication of Policy Papers:

California Alliance for Arts Education: Quality, Equity and Access: A Status Report on Arts Education in California Public Schools Grades Pre-K through 12.

Music for All: The Sound of Silence: The Unprecedented Decline of Music Education in California Public
Schools – A Statistical Review.

CDE Arts Work grants: $6 million eliminated in Gov. Schwarzenegger’s budget and later restored by Legislature. Status: Cut by Governor Schwarzenegger on August 12, 2004 in signing message for SB1108:

"While I am supportive of arts programs, this small, competitive grant program serves relatively few schools. These funds, which count towards Proposition 98 2003-04 obligations, will be appropriated to schools at a future date. During this time of fiscal difficulties, these funds should be spent for educational priorities agreed to with the education leaders to provide more flexible funding so local schools can fund their most important needs."

SB1213 (Scott) Increased fees for arts license plate
Increases the amount of the fees imposed for issuance and renewal of specified special interest license plates approved by the DMV in consultation with the California Arts Council. Requires the council to use the revenue exclusively for arts education and local arts programming. Prohibits the council from using the revenue for its administrative costs.

California Arts Council budget cut by over 90%. Grant making activities suspended, including arts in education grant programs.

SCR 5 (Scott) A far-reaching Alliance-sponsored resolution affirming the importance of standards-based instruction in the visual and performing arts.

SB469 (Scott) Co-sponsored by California Alliance for Arts Education and the CA State PTA, the bill elevates the Visual and Performing Arts in the Instructional Materials bill that was passed in 2002.

AB1512 (Cohn) Establishes the CDE Arts Work Grant Program into statute, as separate and distinct from the Local Arts Education Partnership.

SB611 (Ducheny) Makes clear the intent of the Legislature to support all Subject Matter Projects, including the arts, health, and foreign language. The intent will encourage the University of California to continue maintenance funding in these three subject areas.

CA Master Plan for Education: California Alliance for Arts Education advocacy responsible for inclusion of visual and performing arts among academic areas to be taught at all levels.

CDE Arts Work grants: $6 million eliminated in Gov. Davis’ budget and later restored by Legislature.

Teacher requirements change. The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing alters its requirements for accreditation to include some training in the teaching of visual and performing arts. Requirements take effect in 2004.

The state Board of Education adopts content standards for the arts.

Arts budget increases. Gov. Gray Davis increases the California Arts Council's annual budget to earmark $10 million for education programs.

Theatre and Dance Credential vetoed. Governor Gray Davis vetoes AB752, which would have authorized the CA Commission on Teacher Credentialing to create an emphasis credential in theatre and dance to holders of English and physical education credentials, respectively. (Similar credential bill sustained an earlier veto by Governor Wilson.)

University requirements added. Both UC and CSU systems change admission requirements to include one year of visual or performing arts, beginning in 2003.

Education Code Number 5121(Amended by Chapter 530, 1995)
Course of Study: Grades 1 to 6.

(e) Visual and performing arts, including instruction in the subjects of dance, music, theatre, and visual arts, aimed at the development of aesthetic a.

Education Code Number 51220 (Amended by Chapter 530, 1995)
Areas of Study: Grades 7 to 12.

(g) Visual and performing arts, including dance, music, theater, and visual arts, with emphasis upon development of aesthetic appreciation and the skills of creative expression.1997-98: New grants. In 1997, state Superintendent of Schools Delaine Eastin forms a task force to find ways to bring art and music back into the classroom, mobilizing public officials and private arts groups. In 1998, the Department of Education begins a grant program that now provides $6 million a year for arts education. [Prop 98]


Arts partnership. The Local Arts Education Partnership Program puts into practice the recommendations of the speaker's task force.

Arts license plate. The arts partnership program gets funding through the sale of a special license plate by the Department of Motor Vehicles. Designed by painter Wayne Thiebaud, the palm tree plate has provided $2.35 million for arts education since 1996.

Arts education report. Assembly Speaker Willie Brown's Arts Education Task Force issues a report stressing the importance of arts education, urging the California Arts Council and the Department of Education to bring artists into the schools to help train teachers as well as work with students.

High school reform. Among other things, a new law requires high school students to take either one year of foreign language or visual or performing arts.

Proposition 13. The landmark property-tax cap results in school funding being shifted from local communities to the state. Districts are forced to cut staff and programs, hitting the arts hard.

Ryan Act. State law essentially eliminates arts-course training requirements for elementary school teachers.