Persuasion vs. Enforcement

Persuasion vs. Enforcement: Advocating for the Visual and Performing Arts

A policy paper by Carl W. Schafer 

Longtime educator, advocate and member of the Alliance Policy Council Carl Schafer makes the case for enforcement as an effective approach to arts education advocacy in his policy paper.  His full bio is listed below. 
Opportunities for instruction in the Visual and Performing Art in the public schools have been on the decline for many years. It is quite evident the school district governing boards believe that VAPA are an optional course of study. This is occurring despite the fact that since 1995, VAPA have been mandated by the California Education Code. EC Section 51210(e) requires that all students in grades 1-6 receive instruction in the four disciplines (music, dance, theater and visual art) based on courses of study. EC Section 51220(g) requires that students in grades 7-12 be offered the four disciplines, based on courses of study. In addition, EC Section 51050 requires the governing boards to enforce the courses of study as prescribed in the Education Code. There have been no attempts by educational authorities to enforce these code sections and as a result for over fifteen years, thousands of students have been denied the opportunity to receive instruction in the arts.  
As an educator for over 55 years, I have been deeply involved in arts advocacy. And, like all arts educators believed that VAPA were optional and approached advocacy as a persuader. I attended the early Legislative Action Committee for the Arts Education (LACAE) that met yearly at Asilomar in Monterey and was a member of the first board when it became a year-round organization. I termed out as a board member of the California Alliance for Arts Education (CAAE) and am now on the Policy Council. I have attended rallies at the Capitol, wrote to and met with legislators and served on a variety of task forces and committees. Locally I have performed for the school board, been in charged of a tax override election campaign and organized voter registration. I have given many presentations to civic groups and lobbied my school district officials. These efforts, along with those hundreds of other arts education advocates have not been successful. 

To try and learn how the VAPA Education Code can be enforced, I have been communicating with the California State Department of Education (SDE), the California State Board of Education (SBE) and on July 19, 2012 attended a SBE meeting in Sacramento to present the VAPA information in person. Following is what I have learned.
1. Presenting to the State Board of Education was an interesting experience, but not fruitful. At 5:30 pm after a long day of hearings, with two board members already departed, I was given two minutes to make my presentation. I had provided, in advance, written information for each board member but have no assurance that it was reviewed and I have not received a reply to my presentation. 

2.  EC Section 51057 authorizes the SBE , upon request of a governing board, to exempt a school district from a course of study. EC Section 33050 authorizes the SBE to grant a waiver to certain parts of the EC.  I requested from both the SBE and the SDE a list of school districts that have been granted a waiver or exemption to not enforce the VAPA code sections. Neither agency could provide such a list.  However, I was referred to the website http:/ This is a site that compiles and reports SBE waivers. In a review of the waiver reports from 2006 to the present, I found that no VAPA waivers or exemptions have been granted.

3. I learned, according to Camille Esch, SBE Principal Education Policy Consultant, that “neither the State Board of Education nor the California Department of Education has the authority to enforce every provision of the state’s Education Code”.  

4. However, I did find a SBE policy that is a form of enforcement. Policy #99-03 is about Physical Education Requirements. The policy clearly indicates that the SBE will not grant a waiver to the physical education course of study for grades 1-6 and will only grant a waiver for grades 7-12 under certain conditions. I inquired about the process that could get a similar policy adopted by the SBE. It would be a policy of committing to no waivers or exemptions for VAPA. Such a policy could send a strong message to governing boards. I was informed that there is no particular process that the board determines when and how to develop policies and that I could communicate my request to the board in writing or in person. 
As a result of my findings it appears that there are two possible courses of action that could result in enforcement. 
  a. Initiate legislation that will provide for enforcement of the VAPA EC.
  b. Litigate local governing boards that would result in a court order to enforce the VAPA EC. 

I will be continuing my efforts, first by trying to get a SBE policy as described, and second, try to meet with State Senator Price (Joint Committee on the Arts Chair} or an appropriate legislator to explore the possibility of initiating legislation. 
I have also learned that Governor Brown signed into law S.B. 1458. The law requires the State Superintendent of Public Instruction to begin developing a new program of school review that limits standardized test scores to 60% or less of the API calculation. I will strongly recommend to the Superintendent that the school review program also include mastery of standards in Visual and Performing Arts in addition to Science and Social Studies as recommended in the law. This would, of course, require instruction in the Arts with courses of study as mandated by the Education Code.    
Dr. Carl W. Schafer: In May 2011, Dr. Carl W. Schafer retired as Visiting Professor/Coordinator of Music Education in the School of Music at California Baptist University in Riverside, completing 54 years as an educator. He worked in the Ontario-Montclair School District for 38 years as instrumental music teacher, music consultant, visual and performing arts consultant and elementary principal. He is the planner and founding principal of Buena Vista Arts-integrated School, a K-6 school with the arts as core curriculum.  Upon retirement, Dr. Schafer taught at CSU Fullerton and CSU San Bernardino before taking the position at California Baptist University where he taught for 12 years, the last 5 full time.  He was a member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Education Advisory Committee, ten years as a judge for the Los Angeles Music Center “Bravo” award, board president of the Arts Council for San Bernardino County, and member and staff of the California Arts Project. In 2008 he was inducted in the California Music Educators Association Hall of Fame for lifetime achievement in music education. He currently is part time Music Consultant to the Superintendent of Schools, San Bernardino County, supervises student teachers for CSU Fullerton, is Board President of the Claremont Community School of Music, member of the Policy Board of the California Alliance for Arts Education and performs as a jazz musician in the Carl Schafer Quartet.