Entertainers bring music, visual arts, dance or theater back to schools In this March 8, 2016 photo, teacher Steve Shin, left, instructs a group of students singing during a music class at Stevenson Middle School in East Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Christine Armario)
Entertainers bring music, visual arts, dance or theater back to schools
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Miles from the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the red carpet, Steve Shin belts out tunes on a piano scarred with nicks and love notes written in scratches. He is teaching children how to sing.
 
In scores of other middle schools, his students might have already learned how to read the notes on a scale. But years of cuts have stripped arts classes from much of the Los Angeles district. That left many children in the world's entertainment capital with no instruction in music, visual arts, dance or theater.
 
When Shin arrived for the first day of class, he quickly realized many of his students were starting from zero. "A lot of them didn't even know they were going to be in a music class," he said.
 
Now the nation's second-largest school district is trying to enlist Hollywood studios to "adopt" schools. The idea is to provide students with equipment, mentorships and training. It is one way to reverse the layoffs that have decimated the curriculum.
 
The financial picture is slowly changing. The arts budget has grown to $26.5 million. That is about 40 percent higher than five years ago. But it is still a fraction of the $76.8 million sum that was once available for the arts. For the next school year, it will increase to $32.3 million.
 
In 2014, the district hired former TV writer and producer Rory Pullens. He now is the executive director for arts education. He has hired an arts teacher at every school.
 
Pullens is convinced his work in a district that has 90 percent minority students will one day help diversify Hollywood. It has become a widely discussed goal after the criticism of this year's all-white list of Academy Award acting nominees. He has already met with Paramount, Universal and dozens of other industry leaders to solicit help.
 
The renewed push for arts education in LA comes as new federal education policies stir hope that schools will begin shifting more time and money toward classes such as dance and drama. In recent years, districts have focused on areas emphasized by the No Child Left Behind law. That is the 2001 law that required schools to meet annual targets for math and reading proficiency or face intervention.
 
"We do see the pendulum swinging away from the stark focus on discipline and standardized testing toward a more well-rounded definition of what education should be," said Scott Jones. He is senior associate for research and policy at the Arts Education Partnership.
 
Forty-four states require high schools to offer arts classes. Forty-five states make the same requirement for elementary and middle schools. But at many schools, policy doesn't necessarily match up with course offerings.
 
The new federal law instructs schools to offer a balanced education. That includes music and other arts. In Los Angeles, school leaders are hoping a revised funding formula and industry engagement will rectify longstanding inequities in arts education.
 
When Pullens arrived, one of his first initiatives was to survey every school. He wanted to find out what arts programs they had.
 
In a presentation last spring at a Hollywood middle school with an aging auditorium, Pullens outlined the bleak findings. About 45 schools had no arts teachers. Most had no alignment between elementary, middle and high school course offerings. He called on Hollywood executives to pitch in. He hired Alyson Reed, a dancer and actress whose credits include playing Ms. Darbus in "High School Musical," to begin reaching out to industry contacts and coordinating donations.
 
Film and music studios have chipped in to help Los Angeles schools before. But their contributions tended to focus on the schools directly in their backyard.  For instance, Warner Bros. has provided funding to improve auditoriums at Burbank schools. Sony Entertainment Pictures has run career workshops at Culver City schools.
 
But the schools with the biggest needs are in less affluent neighborhoods.
 
Some studio leaders said getting involved with Los Angeles schools was difficult and bureaucratic. Others were simply unaware of the depth of the district's problems, Reed said.
 
Kelly Koskella, president of Hollywood Rentals, will be donating studio equipment ranging from lights to fog machines. Koskella said he was stunned to learn many Los Angeles Unified schools lack even the kind of gear used in public schools in the mid-1970s.
 
"It seemed very strange hearing that our schools here didn't have the type of equipment that we were using 20 and 30 years ago," Koskella said.
 
To date, the Los Angeles district has confirmed partnerships with Nickelodeon, Sunset Bronson Studios and Sunset Gower Studios. Reed said she and Pullens have also had encouraging meetings with many others. They include Disney, Sony and CBS. She hopes more will be announced soon.
 
Most of the donations have not reached students yet. Reed said the district is still assessing how the equipment will be dispersed.
 
Terry Quintero, 12, had never been in a music class before and now dreams of becoming a professional singer like one of her idols, Adele. When she's singing, Terry said, she leaves everything that's troubling her behind.
 
"What matters right now," she said, "is this class."

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why would Los Angeles, entertainment's capital, have difficulty providing education about entertainment in its schools?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (64)
  • epachol39-mar
    4/14/2016 - 09:56 a.m.

    They may have trouble because they may be spend to much money on the entertainment in the schools. Also they are spending way to much money on these programs. They could limit how many students in the program.

  • stoolsi51-mar
    4/14/2016 - 09:58 a.m.

    They are spending to much money on the entertainment coarse. They can solve this by adding more students and funding other classes.

  • ltoncel95-mar
    4/14/2016 - 10:21 a.m.

    It would be hard having entertainment and education because there might not be enough money for all students to join

  • mmontan42-mar
    4/14/2016 - 10:22 a.m.

    They would have difficulty providing education because they might not have enough money for students.

  • bsanche73-mar
    4/14/2016 - 10:24 a.m.

    Just because Los Angeles is the entertainment capital, doesn't mean that everyone there is completely submerged in the arts, and it also doesn't mean that everyone has a lot of money to use on education of the arts. The schools have experienced cuts in their budgets, and learning/perfecting the arts weren't at the top of the list of their priorities, which lead to a downfall in money spent on the arts.

  • kmejiac66-mar
    4/14/2016 - 10:25 a.m.

    They are spending to much money on the entertainment coarse. They can solve this by adding more students and funding other classes.

  • jacksonm-2-bar
    4/14/2016 - 06:41 p.m.

    Los Angeles may have trouble providing education of the arts 'cause, the school district is very large. The large district needs a lot of money to run and buy everything that they need. MOStly the school is run off of private donations to fund certain activities.

    I liked this article because i like music

  • jacks-6-bar
    4/14/2016 - 06:55 p.m.

    Los Angeles has difficulty providing entertainment in its schools because of numerous budget cuts to spend elsewhere on the metropolis and that schools could hardly afford them. The article states: "...Years of cuts have stripped arts classes from much of the Los Angeles district." Los Angeles is a notoriously growing, large city with a variety of needs, and the only gain they could make for some components they wanted to add or improve upon would be to cut budgets. Unfortunately, entertainment in schools were suspended, as it evidently took to much money, or benefited the city financially when it was out of progress (or else, there would be no reason to cut the budget). Considering that Los Angeles, being a city, uses most of its money for the goodness of its condition, shows that the many cuts (many since Los Angeles is a city of growing demands), including ones made that suspended art, were made for the betterment of the city (of course, except the betterment of its education).
    Also, schools that cannot provide education of entertainment usually don't have the money to do so. The article states: "[Kelly] Koskella said he was stunned to learn many Los Angeles Unified schools lack even the kind of gear used in public schools in the mid-1970s." The simple consideration that many schools within the massive school district of Los Angeles couldn't even so much as afford products that enable the teaching of entertainment which were cheap in the 70's (therefore cheaper now) highlights the superb poorness of them. Since they can't so much as afford even the cheapest tools that would assist majorly in the education of entertainment means they couldn't teach it, as they are basic and essential for the class. Though inexpensive, there is difficulty for schools to teach entertainment since the poorest schools (in which there are many of) can't afford the supplies that would allow them to do it in the first place.
    The article was quite interesting; not only did it highlight the admirable effort that was being done to secure the ecuaction of entertainments, but it also showed how it declined.

  • maggiec-3-bar
    4/14/2016 - 11:00 p.m.

    Los Angeles could have difficulty providing education about entertainment in its schools because of the lack of money provided to fund these programs. In paragraph two the article says "But years of cuts have stripped arts classes from much of the Los Angeles district. That left many children in the world's entertainment capital with no instruction in music, visual arts, dance or theater." This shows that schools want to fund these arts programs, but they just don't have the budget or they had some kind of arts program but had to cut it to fund other classes. If schools were to find another way to get programs about the entertainment industry that would be great. I chose this article because I remember my school used to have music and performing arts classes, but had to cut them. I wish our school had more programs having to do with the arts but I'm glad that people are trying to fix this problem throughout Los Angeles.

  • Eric0221-YYCA
    4/15/2016 - 01:21 a.m.

    The entertainers might have wanted to bring music, visual arts, dance or theater back to schools which a lot of the schools hadn't been having anything because they thought that students had already know them already. The schools might have thought that the students had already know them which the students only know a little about the things that the entertainers have for the students at schools. The people might have wanted to bring back the entertainments that the schools had used to have before they had all of the entertainments be taken away from the schools. People might have wanted to bring back all of the entertainments that the school had taken away might have wanted to bring back all of the entertainment that had changed the whole school.
    Critical Thinking Question: Why would Los Angeles, entertainment's capital, have difficulty providing education about entertainment in its schools?
    Answer: I knew that Los Angeles, entertainment's capital have difficult providing education about entertain in its school because of the cost it would take the school to be teaching about.

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