Back when you were in grade school, students got exposure to a variety of the arts. It's probably when you first heard the tale of Vincent van Gogh slicing off his ear to woo a girl or when you picked up an instrument. Fast forward to present times, and it seems some students in Southern California may not have the options you once had.
Even though the state requires all school districts to provide students with access to music, dance, theater, and visual arts instruction from first to 12th grade, Pasadena-based radio station KPCC found that not many schools in Southern California offer that kind of comprehensive arts instruction. 41 districts in Orange, Riverside, Ventura, Los Angeles, and San Bernardino counties responded to a survey KPCC sent out. Though there aren't clear numbers, and the findings are sad.
The California Education Code says that districts must teach the four art forms every year to students from first to sixth grade, and that they must offer those in seventh and 12th grade the option of taking those classes. Turns out, however, no K-12 district has reported offering all four art forms to every student, every year. Typically, only one in three students was given full arts access. There are some schools in Southern California that don't offer any art classes at all.
Of all four art forms, the one that most schools do not offer is dance instruction. Based off the responses, visual arts and music classes are relatively common, but it's rare that students will get dancing lessons. On a brighter note, most schools reported offering theater to more than 80 percent of students.
So what's the problem? You may have guessed it already, but money is the underlying issue
“It has been a challenge to maintain these programs due to state budget cuts over the past 5-6 years,” wrote Nick Salerno, who is the superintendent of El Monte Union High School District. Lisa Bloom, a director of instruction for Castaic Union School District expressed a similar thought. "There is very little money to do the things we would like to do," she wrote.
Luckily, there are still people out there who care about the arts and have launched efforts to keep art in school. Outside organizations and parent fundraising are providing the schools with money to provide arts instruction to more students. In any case, there is still hope.
You can go to SCPR's page to read more details.