The University of St. Thomas


Gehling, Diane

Gehling, Diane

An Investigation of the Impact of Proposition 13 on California Fine Arts Education Including a Case Study of One School's Program
Diane R. Gehling

The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact Proposition 13 has had on the fine arts education in the State of California between 1978 and 1996. The study further examined the impact that Proposition 13 budget cuts had on school curricula when financial decisions were left to each district's school board and to the administration and board of John Marshall Middle School of the Stockton Unified School District in particular. Along with historical data, research of the period that indicates a strong positive relationship between music instruction and achievement in other academic and social areas is also indicated.

As an historical document, legislative data for this paper have been obtained from: Cal-Tex Digest; California Department of Finance; California legislative documents; and The Secretary of State-Elections Division. Accompanying research that examined the relationship between music and other areas consisted of music and reading (including pronunciation, English as a second language, and foreign language instruction); music and arithmetic; and music and self-perception and self-esteem. Data for the case study of John Marshall Middle School were collected from past and present music teachers, yearbooks and counseling services of Marshall Middle School, and Stockton Unified School District Administrative Offices.
Bracing for the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978, Marshall Middle School began cutting programs that were not required by the state. Research of the period indicates that students' scores began to drop in other academic areas in conjunction with the deletion of these programs from the school curriculum.

The study concluded that fine arts enrollment dropped dramatically after the passage of Proposition 13 and that legislation did not support the corresponding research findings of the period, which suggested that fine arts offerings bolstered academic achievement. At the time of this writing, interpretation of funding legislation is still left up to individual districts, and arts education continues to be cut to make room for heightened academic and graduation requirements.

Dr. Bruce P. Gleason