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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California
Southern California

Nonprofits Unite to Keep Music in LAUSD

Two nonprofits are collaborating to revitalize and develop music programs in Los Angeles schools.  

Adopt the Arts and Little Kids Rock—two nonprofit organizations-- announced a partnership on Thursday, Sept. 20th at Rosewood Elementary School to revitalize and develop music programs in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).

The Los Angeles School Board approved a budget this past March that would eliminate hundreds of programs including art and music, kid-care, and adult education. LAUSD has since postponed the plan in the hopes that California voters support a statewide ballot measure to raise taxes and spare additional budgets to schools.

“Yes, the District has experienced drastic cuts. We used to be able to send 67 instruments to schools for their music classes, this year we were only able to send 47,” said LAUSD K-12 Arts Coordinator, Steven McCarthy. While the contracts for the 2012-2013 school year have been secured, McCarthy said, “Elementary School programs could disappear (in the future), but even if that happens, we won’t leave kids without the arts.” The LAUSD plans to integrate the arts within core subjects like English, Math, and Science if budget cuts eliminate art and music teachers.

Rosewood Elementary’s music teacher didn’t agree with LAUSD’s proposed method. “Good teachers are going to know that kids need a creative outlet so they do it in the classroom, but it is not the same when you have somebody like me who is a professional, who can offer it to the children than a teacher who is busy trying to get all of that academic standards in their life,” said Abby Loces.

Adopt the Arts President and Executive Director, Abby Berman says she founded the organization when she struggled to raise money for Loces. The organization operates on the concept of inviting “well-known artists, public figures, policy makers, and the general public to save the arts in America's public schools”, as stated on organization’s website.  “Every year the arts education budget is on the table, and it’s been whittled away year after year after year. So although the $18 million that they were going to be cut was reinstated, there is still about 50% of elementary school students in LAUSD who are not getting any kind of musical or artistic education outlet during the day at school,” said Berman.

Little Kids Rock Founder, David Wish agreed with Berman. “Everybody says that children are our future, but a lot of people don’t invest that way,” said Wish. Wish also said that the partnership with Adopt the Arts is a “perfect match” because while his organization donates musical instruments and provides musical instruction to underprivileged schools across the country, Adopt the Arts brings awareness through celebrities and public figures.

The event at Rosewood brought several celebrities who extended their support for the arts and stressed the importance of arts.

“If children don’t have arts, they don’t want to stay in school. The dropout rate is so large in America in certain areas, not just the low-income areas, that with arts and creativity, they stay in schools for a longer time,” said actor Johnathon Schaech.

 “Music gave my life a purpose. If a guitar influences some kid to be as lucky as I have been, then that’s why we are here” said actor John Stamos.

Adopt the Arts and Little Kids Rock plans to serve “60,000 kids in the next three years”, said celebrity and Adopt the Arts Co-President Matt Sorum.

The LAUSD sees Adopt the Arts and Little Kids Rock’s collaboration as “a true celebration and a great way to help save the arts,” said McCarthy. 


I think the LAUSD parcel tax has been withdrawn from the November ballot.

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