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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California
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L.A. County Arts Programs Struggling In New Rankings

Why did only 35 schools in L.A. receive an A ranking for their arts programs?

The L.A. Times released a report card today that ranks the arts education programs at 700 schools in Los Angeles. Only 35 schools received an "A" ranking. Garfield High School in East Los Angeles received a "C". 

Assistant Principal Carlo Marquez says that pressure to meet Common Core standards and a lack of funding has left the school without any way to pay for arts teachers. "We had to cut teachers - our scores were low overall so we had to focus on instruction,” Marquez says. “We have a stage’s empty— we wish to use it every day.” 

Garfield recently got a new auditorium, after their old one burned down in a fire. But they haven't been able to put it to use. Students from the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California want to make sure every auditorium in L.A. is filled with music, performed by local students. 

USC student Geetha Somayajula says music is an important part of a student's education.  “Music isn’t just about what we learn in class- the skills that we learn here apply to all other aspects of their lives as well,” Somayajula says.  She volunteers at a local elementary school, where she teaches music classes with a few other music students each week. 

But Marquez says it can be hard to remember that when funding is limited.

“We see that our kids are not prepared for college- and so how do we do it? What do we focus on?…it’s hard to choose…”

Somayajula's students told her that her class is the highlight of their day, every day. She hopes to bring this kind of joy into schools across Los Angeles. 

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