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How to Increase Graduation Rates by Eliminating Arts Education Requirements

Well, that’s just the misguided theory that the California State Assembly has unanimously endorsed.

I reported on AB 2446 over a month ago. Unfortunately, it has been unanimously approved by the California Assembly and if approved by the Senate, and if signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger, well, that’s that for the time being.

Click here to read the LA Times story on the bill.

Its author, Warren
(D-Gardena) says in a statement on his website that “the
intent … is to increase high school graduation rates, which is an
ever-pressing issue.”

So, what’s the big deal here you may ask? So what if high school students can opt out of the arts in exchange for a Career and Technical Education course?

Well, first, one course in Career and Technical Education does not a CTE education make. I understand, that argument could be used for the arts. However, what is being posited here is that the CTE course could help these kids find a job or be better prepared for a job. That flies in the face of best practices in CTE. The best CTE programs also include rigorous academics, including the arts. And, a Career and Technical Education which is as the name would suggest, being very skill oriented and grounded  workforce training and preparedness, doesn’t happen in a single course of anything.

The real kicker here is the creation of a de facto caste system, whereby only those on a pathway to college are required to take the arts. Those who may go on to a vocation, well, they don’t need the arts do they? As the son of a stagehand and a secretary, I find that offensive.

What is more, in a state such as California, which has such a significant creative sector, you would have to wonder how this could be on the verge of being possible. Perhaps the Governor will remember his roots here and veto the thing.

I sure wish there was more that I could do to help our friends at the California Alliance for Arts Education than just saying shame on you to all the members of the California State Assembly.



  1. And as the son of a factory worker and a secretary, I also find this offensive.
    Thank you for keeping this in the spotlight.
    Your wish at the end reminds me again, though, that there ARE things that can be done beyond simply reporting and lamenting.
    We are constantly spouting facts and figures about how huge the arts are with respect to the economy as a whole. What that gets, at best, is: “Well, thank you very much.” Followed by business as usual. Perhaps its time to test just how much of an effect creatively withholding the arts would have on that economy.
    Just a thought — and a few more words at:

  2. Jane Remer says:

    Somehow I am not surprised…back in the 70s, in the middle of one of our “arts are up” (versus down) cycles, along came Prop 13 knocking the stuffings out of educational innovation, including the arts….
    Your caste system analogy is apt, and it could be applied across the boards in the US schools systems that honored tracking…of course, many European systems work the same way…it’s all as old as Plato….

  3. Fred Kendell says:

    I remember reading where those who were suppose to know talk of the evil that Rock and Roll music would bring in the fifties, or the virtue of segregated schools in the sixties. Giving the students an opportunity to choose between an art class or a Career Technical class does nothing but help the student.
    Those suggestions you made are just not true like the evils of rock and roll music would bring. Career Technical classes today are not the same as your grandfathers, most are incredible rigorous and all are very relevant.

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