Capitol Alert

AM Alert: How can California schools achieve mandatory arts education?

Lynae Morgan portrays Morgana the Wicked Fairy in Leataata Floyd Elementary School’s “Sleeping Beauty,” its first-ever school play, put on by about two dozen students on June 3, 2015.
Lynae Morgan portrays Morgana the Wicked Fairy in Leataata Floyd Elementary School’s “Sleeping Beauty,” its first-ever school play, put on by about two dozen students on June 3, 2015. jvillegas@sacbee.com

Did you know that California law requires public schools to teach visual and performing arts?

Despite years of hand-wringing that budget cuts and standardized testing have taken music, drama and painting out of the classroom, there is actually a mandate in the state education code for arts instruction in the 1st through 12th grades – one that many schools are either unaware of or simply ignore.

Supporters argue that incorporating arts education is proven to boost student performance. At least one advocate – 83-year-old former principal and music teacher Carl Schafer – has made it his mission to ensure the requirement is enforced.

Now state Sen. Ben Allen, whose mother is an artist, is taking up the cause. As chair of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Arts, the Santa Monica Democrat will lead a hearing on the challenges that schools face complying with the code, 1 p.m. at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills.

While recognizing that policymakers are responsible in part for creating the situation, Allen said the purpose of the hearing is “just putting a little bit of pressure on the districts” to make arts instruction a priority and helping them think about ways to meet the mandate.

“We all know that arts education can play such a role in the development of a young person,” he said. “It's an important factor in the achievement gap.”

PADDING THE VOTE: Here’s an election storyline you can prepare to get sick of in 2016: Who will win the fast-growing “Latino vote,” critical to success in battleground states like Florida, Nevada and Colorado? Campaigns on both sides of the aisle are pouring enormous resources into Latino outreach, including Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, who is getting an assist today from California’s Secretary of State Alex Padilla. He will be in Reno to host a meeting of Latino leaders at the Hillary for Nevada headquarters, canvass local Latino small business owners, and represent Clinton at a dinner hosted by the county Democratic Party.

GENDER’S GAME: The Senate Select Committee on Women and Inequality was formed last year to explore policy opportunities promoting gender equity, particularly among low-income and minority women. Its latest hearing, a public discussion on homeless and exploited women in South Los Angeles, takes places at 1 p.m. at the Weingart YMCA Wellness & Aquatic Center in Los Angeles.

BERN NOTICE: While Clinton, who recently swung through the state on another fundraising tour, is still the frontrunner among likely Democratic voters in California, supporters of Bernie Sanders are working to close her slimming lead. They plan to hold to hold a massive “enough is enough” rally on Saturday, noon at the Civic Center Plaza in San Francisco.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside, who turns 65 today.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff

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