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On February 7th Debbie Allen released a firestorm of tweets. “#SAVETHEARTS” appeared on her timeline over 6 times. The renowned artist was rallying petitions against an announcement made by the Los Angeles United School Board (LAUSD). The LAUSD has to cut $557 million by June 30th. Part of their “multi-phased budget balancing plan” eliminates arts education in all Los Angeles County elementary public schools.
Arts Action Fund partner, Arts for LA has lead the way in advocating for arts policies and addressing arts issues in Los Angeles County since 2006. This non-profit serves a region of more than 10 million residents. Arts for LA has chosen to tackle the new proposal LAUSD by forming the very petition letter Debbie Allen mentioned in her tweets.
Part of the petition letter reads, “The purpose of public education is to level the playing field for all students, and arts education cultivates the innovation, problem-solving and creativity skills necessary for pursuing a career in the 21st-century American economy.” It goes on to say eliminating the program would not solve the school board’s budget challenges and would harm Los Angeles County students. As of February 8th over 1,800 petitions were signed by local citizens and sent electronically via email to all 7 District leaders of LAUSD and Superintendent John Deasy.
The LAUSD will have a Board meeting open to the public February 14th to discuss proposed cuts. The Arts Acton Fund and Arts for LA will continue to follow this story because as Debbie Allen put it, “The arts are a vital necessity in the curriculum of every child, it lights a path toward humanity, compassion and tolerance.” For further reading, Arts for LA’s strong blog entry on advocacy stresses we, as arts advocators cannot only be reactive in our economic climate but proactive. And if you are a Los Angeles County resident please take action and sign the petition letter composed by our partner. There is power in numbers!