We stay on top of the latest trends, opportunities and threats in our field. Our newsletter provides a digest of current arts education headlines; our Legislative Update tracks bills in the California Legislature that could impact arts programs in our schools; and, our blog offers an in depth view or opinion on current policy issues. Below are the latest news stories about our work.  

Impact of Governor's Proposed Budget on Arts Education

Governor’s Budget Favors Local Autonomy and Eliminates Most Categorical Funding

The Governor’s budget proposal, released last week, includes major changes to K-12 education finance. The proposal gives local districts greater flexibility and autonomy in how they use state funds, putting more decisions in the hands of local school boards, with fewer state restrictions and requirements. According to an analysis of the proposed budget by Alliance Lobbyist Kathy Lynch, the Governor’s proposal,

“Provides $1.6 billion for the "Local Control Funding Formula". The proposal is largely the same as Weighted Student Formula proposed last year in that the Administration proposes to eliminate the majority of categorical programs, consolidate funding with revenue limit apportionments, and provide funding through a new formula that will be phased in over a period of seven years. The proposal will be coupled with a system of accountability measures both at the state and local level.”

Proposition 30 Passed. What's Next?


We did it! Californians voted to pass Proposition 30 (53.9% to 46.1%) and reinvest in our schools. Thank you for joining our efforts and ensuring that this essential funding for education passed.

Proposition 30 will raise the state sales tax a quarter-cent for four years and increase the income tax of the state's highest earners for seven years. The 2012-2013 California budget depends on that revenue.  

In a letter sent to the Governor this week,  Joe Landon acknowleged the importance of this victory as well as the work that still lies ahead:


"Our hope is that we can begin build upon this moment, as we look ahead with a renewed sense of the learning opportunities the arts offer across the curriculum, both through instruction in the discreet subjects of dance, music, theater and visual arts, as well as through arts integration, career technical education, and other aspects of a comprehensive educational system."

November State Legislative Elections

Alliance Lobbyist Kathy Lynch provides an analysis of the preliminary results of November 6 election. 
On November 6, 2012, Californians went to the poll to elect representatives from all 80 assembly districts and 21 of the 40 senate districts (odd-numbered plus one even-numbered special election).  Debra Bowen, Secretary of State, had reported a record number of voter registrations for this election (18,245,970 people or 76.7 percent of those eligible to vote.  This is an increase of 2.1 percent over the 17,304,091 registered in 2008.  Among those registered for the 2012 general election,43.7% registered as Democrats, 29.4% registered as Republicans, 20.9% expressed no party preference, and 6.0% registered as American Independent, Americans Elect, Green, Libertarian, or Peace and Freedom Party).
Results of the election will be certified on December 7, 2012.  As of Tuesday morning, November 13, 2012, many votes by mail and provisional ballots have not been counted.  Before the election the Assembly was composed of 52 Democrats, 27 Republicans, and 1 Independent. As of this morning, Democrats were leading in 54 districts and Republicans were leading in 26.  The Senate was composed of 25 Democrats and 15 Republicans before the election.  As of this morning, Democrats are leading in 14 districts and Republicans are leading in 7 (Senators in odd-numbered districts remaining in the Senate include14 Democrats and 5 Republicans, thus the potential composition is 28 Democrats and 12 Republicans).  As the election currently stands, there is the potential of the Democrats holding a supermajority in the California legislature.  A supermajority is capable of passing tax legislation without the threat of a Republican veto (the Senate needs 27 seats to achieve supermajority status).

Alliance Launches 5 Local Coalitions through Arts Council Partnership


As a result of a new partnership with the California Arts Council, this fall local arts councils in Amador, Fresno, Mendocino, Placer and Santa Cruz joined the Alliance’s Local Advocacy Network.

The program offers empowers local communities to keep arts programs in schools by providing the strategic assistance, leadership development and communication tools. Since its launch four years ago, the network has helped local advocates build strong relationships with their local school boards, participate in the creation of a district arts plan and earn media coverage and broad support for arts education.

The five local councils support from bring a wealth of experience and a strong commitment to this work. Each one hosts a breakfast event for community leaders to gather and unify local support for arts education. Read about the recent launch in Amador County. 

Guest Blog: Surveying Candidates for State Legislature

Guest Blog By: Jackie Koppell, Director of Programs, California Arts Advocates
California Arts Advocates (CAA), in partnership with Californians for the Arts (CFTA), is thrilled to announce its first candidate survey.  Thank you to the California Alliance for working with us to help spread the word! 
CAA/CFTA has sent surveys to all of the state Assembly and Senate candidates in an effort learn about their understanding of and position on the arts.  The four questions (see below) cover the economy, tourism, education, and community development. 
As statewide advocacy organizations, we decided to focus on the Assembly and Senate candidates because the work that CAA/CFTA does tends to focus on issues within our state, and often overlaps with issues that these legislators work on.  If successful with this survey, we may reach out to federal candidates in the future as well.

Electing Strong Arts Education Leaders






How do you find strong arts education leaders? Ask the right questions.

Where there’s a strong arts education advocate, chances are there is also a person who may love to draw or play the guitar or who knows the joys of running cues for a play. It doesn’t take much to awaken that passion -- you just have to ask.

For the upcoming election on November 6th, the California Alliance asked candidates about the role of the arts education in addressing critical issues like closing the achievement gap, reducing the dropout rate and preparing students for college eligibility and the 21st century workforce. But we also asked them about their personal connection to the arts because we’ve found that that very often that experience instills a strong commitment to this issue in people.

A grateful goodbye to five board members

This month, the Alliance said a heartfelt goodbye and a hearty thank you to five amazing arts education leaders who, after many years of service, retired from our board. 
They are Carol Cosivar, current State PTA President; Leslie Johnson, Director, Education & Outreach for Center Theatre Group; Sarah Murr, who recently retired from her position as Global Corporate Citizenship, Commu

Opening the Door for Arts Education & Title 1

Last week California’s Title 1 Conference was held in San Diego, bringing together Title 1 administrators and school and parent representatives from around the state.
One of the breakout sessions listed was “Title 1, Student Achievement and the Arts.” The session was both the culmination of year’s work and the first step on a journey that will encourage schools throughout California to choose arts education strategies as a means of accomplishing Title 1 goals. 
To back up a little…The California Alliance for Arts Education and Arts for LA have been working, along with the solid support of letter-writing advocates from around the state,  to engage the California Department of Education in a discussion about how to provide guidance to Title 1 schools interested in pursuing arts education strategies. These efforts led to a letter to the field from the Department in February, and was followed by an invitation to the Alliance to present a panel at the statewide conference, explaining the process involved in selecting arts education strategies. 

Why We Need Props 30 AND 38

A message from California Board Chair, Mark Slavkin

The fate of public education in California is on the ballot this November.  Arts education and every other element of a quality education are at risk unless we pass Propositions 30 and 38.  

Proposition 30 is proposed by Governor Brown in order to balance the current year state budget without further devastating cuts to schools.  School districts will be forced to cut several weeks from the current school year if Proposition 30 is not approved. 

Proposition 38 will generate new state revenue and begin the process of restoring essential funding for our schools. Neither measure is about arts education per se, although Proposition 38 lists the arts as one potential use for the money. Yet if these measures are approved, they provide real hope that we can rebuild vital arts programs. If they lose, all bets are off. 
As advocates for children, it is our responsibility to work for passage of these measures.  We need to demonstrate to our colleagues in public education that we stand firmly with them, and not off to the side as a “special interest.”  

We know there are many good reasons for voters to be skeptical about new taxing and spending measures.  Much of the frustration is warranted.  Yet we owe it to our students to rise above our cynicism and do what is right for them.  Please join the California Alliance for Arts Education and vote yes on Propositions 30 and 38.

SB 1458 Expands School Assessments Beyond Standardized Tests

This week Governor Brown signed into law, SB 1458 (Steinberg), legislation which alters the structure of California's Academic Performance Index (API) by setting a 60% limit for standardized test performance for high schools. With the current API, standardized tests constitute 100% of the accountability measure. The remaining 40% must include graduation rates as well as other college and career readiness factors that reflect the expectations of public education and the needs of the state's workforce. Promotion rates for grades 7-12 may also be included. In primary and middle schools, standardized test performance would comprise at least 60% of the API.

The bill requires the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI) submit, for approval by the State Board of Education, valid, reliable, and stable measures of college and career readiness. SB 1458 encourages the SPI to develop school quality reviews to complement the API. The review process would feature locally convened panels to visit schools, observe teachers, interview pupils and examine pupil work. The bill also requires that the SPI report to the Legislature, by October 1, 2013, on alternative methods, in place of decile rank, for determining eligibility, preferences, or priorities for statutory programs currently using decile rank as a determining factor.