Today, Governor Jerry Brown corrected a longstanding injustice in California’s arts education delivery system, and set the course for a brighter future for California’s students by signing SB 916 (Allen) into law, legislation that will establish single-subject teaching credentials in dance and theatre.
This is an issue that has burned in the hearts and minds of arts education advocates since 1970, when dance and theatre credentials were eliminated by the Ryan Act. Since then, teachers could only teach dance after obtaining a credential in Physical Education, and an English credential to teach theatre. Twice, legislative efforts to create these credentials were vetoed by the governor at that time.
Earlier this year, Senator Ben Allen (D-Los Angeles), chair of the Joint Committee on the Arts, decided to take up the issue and introduced Senate Bill 916, the Theatre and Dance Act (TADA!). This effort picked up many vocal allies along the way, including actress Annette Bening, who testified on behalf of the bill in the Senate Education Committee. SB 916 made it through both houses of the legislature without a negative vote, buoyed by the support of the California Teachers Association, California Federation of Teachers, and a multitude of organizations and individuals across the state, including 750 advocates who responded to the Alliance’s advocacy campaign and sent letters to Governor Brown in support of the bill!
We would like to acknowledge the support of Kathryn Lynch, our lobbyist in Sacramento, who has shepherded all three efforts to enact this legislation; as well as Gai Jones, former president of the California Educational Theatre Association, who has been fighting for this change since the seventies. We are also grateful for the contributions of individuals including Malissa Shriver, Donn Harris, Dennis Mangers, Tiffany Mok, Ginger Fox, Jessy Kronenberg and members of the California Dance Education Association, and Carol Hovey and members of the California Educational Theatre Association. Finally, we’d like to thank all the dedicated arts education advocates like you for your commitment and support for this measure.
Assembly Bill 2862 (O’Donnell) was also signed into law today, legislation that authorizes the Superintendent of Public Instruction, in consultation with the Instructional Quality Commission, to recommend to the State Board of Education revisions to the Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) standards. The bill requires the State Board of Education to adopt, reject, or modify any revisions by January 31, 2019.
California's Visual and Performing Arts standards are one of the oldest sets of state standards that have not been revised or had a framework revision, and are in urgent need of an update to allow students to benefit from current curriculum, instruction, and instructional materials. This measure will enable California to update VAPA standards for students in grades pre-K through 12.
We will be dancing—and quoting Shakespeare—in the streets tonight! Thank you, Governor Brown!