An Open Letter To The Los Angeles Unified School District

I recently composed and sent the following letter to the Los Angeles Unified School District in response to the proposal that all art and music be eliminated from elementary education. Of course, if you’re here to begin with, you likely know why this is preposterous, regardless of budget demands. But I still felt I should publish my letter here as well and if you live in the LA area, please take a moment to contact your respective board member and encourage them to do the right thing.

Take Action: Keep Elementary Arts in LAUSD


As promised, here is a copy of my letter:

To The Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent and Board:

I recently learned about the news of the proposed funding cuts to the art and music programs in the LA District Elementary Schools and felt compelled to write this brief note.

As a professional musician and co-founder of Foundation I have seen time and again the importance of the Arts in the personality development of children. The Arts are not entertainment nor are they some fringe luxury; they are essential for personal growth and wellbeing.

Arts are the protein that feeds imagination and creativity. Whoever sees a child without fantasy, dreams, imaginary games, etc. sees an emotionally malnourished and very unhappy child who runs a high risk of developing multiple social and personal problems.

Any parent knows children spend most of their day involved in healthy imagination oriented play and in turn, that play develops into creative critical thinking. Did nature and God make this attractive to children just because it’s fun?

No, no, no!

The Arts are necessary for growing minds and lifelong happiness. I implore those responsible for these decisions to keep art and music in the schools lest we risk dooming our children to lives of emotional despair.

Lynn Harrell

3 Responses to An Open Letter To The Los Angeles Unified School District

  1. Steven Honigberg February 12, 2012 at 11:03 am #

    As a parent of musical children I applaud your letter. Although I didn’t have a healthy musical system in place in my elementary, junior high and high schools growing up in the 1970s, I (my parents) found it elsewhere for me in the city of Chicago (youth orchestra, civic orchestra, Frank Miller and Karl Fruh). In Washington DC, I routinely see children carrying their tiny instruments into school. Don’t eliminate this valuable and healthy outlet for our children. Bravo Lynn.
    -Steven Honigberg

  2. Bradley Greer March 21, 2012 at 7:14 am #

    Thank you for writing this letter.
    The arts in public schools are dwindling, not only due to budget cuts, but because of the misguided obsession with the almighty test, and we need to do everything possible to prevent the complete obliteration of arts for our children.
    Great artists like you, Mr. Harrell, go a long way toward bringing this travesty to light.
    Thank you!
    Bradley Greer
    Art Teacher, LAUSD

  3. Robert Dean June 4, 2015 at 7:12 am #

    The abomination in this is that school administrators and school boards are only acting out of self-interest in protecting their jobs through compliance with what they know to be wrong. There are very few of them who are willing to listen to parents and community leaders and act in the best interest of children. It is not about the money. It’s about values, and the cowardly school leaders who won’t speak out for fear of losing their positions. Thus, we have schools systems where cheating and teaching test answers are becoming the norm. And that, my art-loving friends, is the value that kids are learning from this. Students know that testing is a game to be played and won at whatever cost. So the values that one learns through musical activities- hard work, discipline, reliance on team effort, appreciation of world cultures, and expression of emotions- become replaced by the values of expediency and doing the minimum required. Thank you, Mr. Harrell, for lending your voice to this cause. I have followed your career for many years, and have confidence that people, such as yourself, are going to be listened to.

    Robert K Dean

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