Friday, December 12, 2014


Mary Plummer | KPCC 89.3 |

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File: Los Angeles Unified school board members Steve Zimmer and Monica Ratliff during an April 29, 2014 school board committee meeting. Mary Plummer/KPCC

December 11, 2014  ::  Thirty-three middle schools that either lack or are grossly deficient in arts instruction will get a share of a $2.5 million allocation approved by the Los Angeles Unified School District board on Tuesday.

News that several dozen schools have no access or limited exposure to the arts came as a surprise to some school board members. Board member Steve Zimmer called the revelation "literally heartbreaking." (See the list below for the affected schools.)

"We're hurting kids," he said. He added that while he supported the efforts of Rory Pullens, the district's new head of arts education, the board needed to do more to get the district's students access to arts education. "It's got to be a right for every kid," Zimmer said.

The $2.5 million comes from monies based on the Local Control Funding Formula, the new calculation that increased state funding to local schools for 2014-2015.

The lack of arts programs at some LAUSD middle schools adds to the evidence of the district's sharp disparities in arts education. In July, KPCC analyzed district data and found 87 percent of elementary schools were on track to violate California's education laws by failing to offer comprehensive arts access to elementary students.

"It’s always shocking and difficult to consider the lives of those students that are not having any exposure whatsoever," said Cristina Pacheco, advocacy manager for the nonprofit Arts for LA that promotes investment in the arts. Pacheco spent seven hours at the board meeting Tuesday waiting for the arts funding item to come up on the agenda.

Pacheco said she sees hope ahead for arts education and believes conditions are far better than they were last year. She thinks the hiring of Pullens has helped.

"His real attention and leadership and bold attack of these issues has been reassuring," she said.

But the district's glacial pace in addressing arts education may be too late for some students who will graduate before meaningful changes take place.

The board passed its Arts at the Core resolution back in October 2012 and then waited about nine months while the district developed a 44-page arts plan that's largely not been implemented.

Before Pullens was hired, district officials blew past several deadlines to deliver a budget for the arts plan. In February, a budget outline was presented, but it fell short of some board members' expectations.

Pullens is working on providing the district with an arts budget that would fully fund access for all students and an Arts Equity Index, which would help officials evaluate and quantify arts access at all of the district's schools.

He said the schools below, which currently have no arts education or very limited access, can expect to use the new funds for arts activities after the winter break. The schools will get $10,000 each to support work with community arts partners.

• Audubon Middle School
• Cochran Middle School 
• Harte Prep Middle School
• Mann Middle School
• Muir Middle School
• Obama Global Prep Academy
• Pio Pico Middle School
• Arroyo Seco Museum Science Magnet
• Sal Castro Middle School
• Perez Special Education Center
• Stevenson Middle School
• Aggeler Community Day School 
• Lull Special Education Center
• James Madison Middle School Learning Communities
• Hesby Oaks Leadership Charter
• Mark Twain Middle School
• The Incubator School   
• Webster Middle School
• Nightingale Middle School
• Studio School
• Lowman Special Ed Center
• Olive Vista Middle School
• Banneker Special Education Center 
• Harry Bridges Span School
• Caroldale Learning Community
• Curtiss Middle School
• Drew Middle School
• Fleming Middle School
• Gompers Middle School
• Peary Middle School
• Stephen M. White Middle School
• Willenberg Special Education Center
• McBride Special Education Center

    For details on how the $2.5 million will be spent, see the board document below ,


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