Elementary school music class
Source Alert

Prop. 28: USC experts discuss the promise and pitfalls of California’s arts education expansion

June 06, 2024

In 2022, voters overwhelmingly passed California Proposition 28, a state ballot initiative aimed at expanding arts education in K-12 public schools, including charters. The measure gives schools an additional 1% of their annual budgets for visual arts, theater, dance, music or media arts.

While initially celebrated for its potential, concerns have surfaced about how the funds are being used and distributed, prompting calls for more oversight and transparency.

USC experts are available to discuss the broad benefits of music and arts education on youth well-being, as well as the challenges facing Prop. 28’s rollout.

Contact: Nina Raffio, raffio@usc.edu or (213) 442-8464; USC Media Relations, uscnews@usc.edu or (213) 740-2215

Music education boosts youth well-being, USC research shows

Beatriz Ilari

“Music might be an activity to help students develop skills and competencies, work out their emotions, engage in identity work and strengthen connections to the school and community,” said Beatriz Ilari, associate professor of music education at the USC Thornton School of Music.

“We know that the pandemic has taken a toll on student mental health. The many narratives of learning loss that have emerged since the start of the pandemic paint a grim picture of what some call a ‘lost generation,’” said Ilari, lead author on a study linking music education with broad benefits to youth well-being.

Contact: ilari@usc.edu

Ballot measures: An imperfect, but important tool for democracy


John Matsusaka“Ballot measures are an essential part of democracy in California, enabling voters to choose policies they want even if legislators don’t agree. Usually voters are able to make sound decisions, but they need to hear the arguments on both sides to get there. When campaign spending is entirely one-sided, rich special interests can dominate the debate and win by default,” said John Matsusaka, executive director of the USC Initiative and Referendum Institute.

“The campaign for Prop. 28 was the kind that is worrisome: $11 million dollars was spent by proponents—three rich business people, a teachers union, and a musical instruments business—against not a penny spent by opponents. To make sure voters are informed when they vote, California should make at least a minimum level of funding available for both sides to make their case,” said Matsusaka, professor of business, law and political science with joint appointments at the USC Marshall School of Business and USC Gould School of Law.

Contact: matsusak@usc.edu

Public support key to avoiding a repeal, pollster warns

Christian R. Grose

“Any time there is controversy about a policy after it passes can reduce support for the initiative among voters in the future,” said Christian Grose, professor of political science and public policy at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and academic director of the USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy at the USC Price School of Public Policy.

“Supporters of Prop. 28 who want to avoid a repeal may need to address the controversy and explain accountability measures, so as not to lower support among the public,” said Grose, who polled California voters about their feelings toward Prop. 28 before the 2022 election in which it was passed.

Contact: cgrose@dornsife.usc.edu