A new law in California eliminates California’s arts and foreign language high school graduation requirement by allowing students to take a career-technical education (CTE) course instead.
Sound familiar? AB 1330 is nearly identical to a bill vetoed by then-Governor Schwarzenegger last fall at the urging of Common Core, among others. By signing AB 1330 into law, Governor Brown damages the teaching of the arts and foreign language in his state and guarantees thousands of students will graduate high school unqualified for admission to California’s public universities.
The new law continues a trend in California (and across the nation): With budgets tight, more than three-quarters of California’s school districts have reduced their art and music offerings over the past two years. One quarter of those districts have dropped the classes entirely.
The University of California and California State University systems require high school students to graduate with an education across the liberal arts, including courses in the arts and foreign language. In fact, arts and foreign-language courses are twice as likely as CTE classes to be certified as college-prep courses. To be considered for admission to California’s public universities, students must complete fifteen year-long UC-approved school courses with a grade C or better:
History and Social Science, 2 years
English, 4 years
Math, 3 years
Lab science, 2 years (3 recommended)
Foreign Language, 2 years (3 recommended)
Arts, 1 year of dance, drama, music or visual art
Elective, 1 year
The law is packaged as dropout prevention. But easing graduation requirements doesn’t lower dropout rates. In fact, rigorous graduation requirements have been found to reduce the dropout rate for high poverty students. The law’s actual effect will be reduced post-high school options for all of California’s more than 6 million public school students. The law also sends the clear message that the arts and foreign language are not as important to the state as the other subjects.
As states, districts, and schools continue to focus more narrowly on reading and math at the expense of subjects like art and foreign language, we’re disappointed to see California follow this trend.