Politics & Government

California arts educators bristle over new bill

A bill that seeks to reduce dropout rates by changing high school graduation requirements statewide has arts education advocates bristling.

Assembly Bill 2446 would allow students to pick from a myriad of arts and career technical education or vocational classes instead of requiring them to take yearlong classes in arts or a foreign language.

"We feel it's bad educational policy as it sets one education area against another," said Joe Laddon, policy director of the California Arts Education Alliance.

Approved by the Legislature, the bill is on the desk of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has until Sept. 30 to sign or veto it.

In addition to potentially eroding arts education, Laddon said he fears it would create a pool of graduating students who do not meet basic requirements for getting into the University of California and California State University systems. Both require arts and language classes.

"One of the implications of this is that it suggests a two-tier system where kids are sent in the direction of career tech at the expense of going into higher education," he said. "They will have to go back and take those courses if they want to go on to a postsecondary educational track."

But the bill's sponsor, Assemblyman Warren Furutani, D-Gardena, said AB 2446 gives students more choice in tailoring their schooling to new digital careers, and that opting for career technical education classes will make students more competitive for jobs.

"A lot of people are dropping out," said Furutani. "So, I'm focused on trying to find as many pathways or options available to keep students interested in school."

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