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Top 10 arts education stories for 2014

Renaissance Arts Academy is a 22,000 square-foot open classroom and has stage lights hanging from the ceilings. It's one school that's lucky to have an arts program.
Renaissance Arts Academy is a 22,000 square-foot open classroom and has stage lights hanging from the ceilings. It's one school that's lucky to have an arts program.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Casting back over the past year, there was no lack of news in the arts education world that engaged, enraged and inspired. From music to dance, how arts is being taught, or not taught, and what it imparts to students and communities remains a rich source of stories, reflecting what we value and aspire to for ourselves and our children.

Here then are our choices for the top ten stories from KPCC on the arts and teaching. If we've forgotten your favorite stories, please add them in the comments field below.

1. LA school district's backlogged music repair shop to expand

In January, Los Angeles Unified moved to double its music repair shop staff after KPCC reported that the district had a backlog of at least 2,600 broken instruments. By spring, the district had dramatically improved the repair process and come close to eliminating the backlog.

2. LA schools arts budget: Most funds will go to 'arts integration' teachers

In February, after months of missed deadlines, the Los Angeles Unified School District released a draft arts budget that outlined plans to increase funding after years of cutbacks. The plan emphasized arts integration into existing courses over new arts classes. The release of the document marked an important first step — but in the months that have followed, school board members and arts advocates have repeatedly called for a more detailed funding plan that has yet to be delivered.

3. Few Southern California school districts can afford comprehensive arts instruction

KPCC publishes arts education survey that shows Southern California school districts have vast gaps in students' access to arts education. More than half of the 41 districts that participated in Orange, Riverside, Ventura, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties self-reported that fewer than half of their students have comprehensive arts offerings as required by state law. 

4. Hamilton High School students say performing 'Happy' 'was a dream'

This was KPCC's most-viewed arts education story of 2014, coming in third when compared to all of KPCC's education coverage. Students recounted their experience performing on-stage at the Oscars with Pharrell Williams by singing us a recap. 

5. Rainbow Loom: How to survive and thrive with the latest toy craze

In April, we staked out the Burbank Central Library to go inside a Rainbow Loom meet-up and got a looming lesson from a 9-year-old. The web story offers tips on how to navigate the craft toy sensation and was KPCC's second most-viewed arts education story of 2014.

6. Effort emerging to bring arts back to California prisons

In January, KPCC visited the California Rehabilitation Center in Norco and reported on efforts to restore arts education to state correctional facilities. By May, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced it was restoring funding for prisoner arts programming.

7. LA school by school arts instruction breakdown: check your school here

KPCC's analysis of arts funding showed large disparities among schools and that 87 percent of elementary schools were on track to violate California law for failing to offer comprehensive access to arts instruction.

8. Teachers have big hopes for LA schools' new arts leader

In May, Los Angeles Unified officials hired Rory Pullens as the new head of arts education. Pullens joined the district from a famous arts school in Washington, D.C. The district had tried to hire him twice before, but the deals didn't go through. This profile of Pullens tracks his first meeting of the school year with the district's arts teachers. 

9. Long Beach museum looks to buck trend of declining student field trips

KPCC found that Long Beach Unified and Los Angeles Unified saw steep drops in field trip numbers during the past five to 10 years. In Long Beach, the Museum of Latin American Art tackled the problem by purchasing its own bus for field trips. We rode along to talk with students and museum staffers about the journey to get the program rolling. 

10. After years with no arts classes, Compton elementary readies a holiday concert

Turnaround Arts came to California in 2014, bringing the national initiative from the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities to 10 of California's struggling schools. The program seeks to improve schools by infusing them with the arts. By December, students at Compton's Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary performed in their first-ever holiday arts concert after years without access to arts education.