Updated at the bottom with video of Sorum's inspiring speech. Reporting by Tessa Stuart.
Of all the crucial LAUSD programs on the chopping block at today's board meeting — like the entire adult-education department and after-school tutoring — perhaps the most heart-wrenching was art education for elementary schoolers.
You heard right. The L.A. school district was about to cut the arts completely from its K-6 campuses.
Luckily, though, along with throngs of protesters (the crowd grew so large that the LAPD had to shut down the street outside district headquarters), a couple celebrities showed up to give board members a piece of their mind.
Debbie Allen, a famed choreographer and Golden Globe-winning actress, reportedly likened the cut to “dropping a nuclear bomb on our kids” during public comment.
And former Guns N' Roses and Velvet Revolver drummer Matt Sorum took his beef directly to the district's head honcho:
After relating a childhood story about being saved by music, Sorum asked Superintendent John Deasy if they could meet in private — to work this thing out “rock star to superintendent.”
LA Weekly's reporter at the scene says Deasy was “swooning” and “starstruck” at the celebrity's speech. And an AP reporter adds that Deasy “looked tickled at the offer.”
At that, the board postponed a final budget decision until March 13. (Which could just be a waiting game to dispel public interest, but could also work to buy some time.)
Board members largely blamed Sacramento for the district's pending cuts, and asked the public to please lobby the state Legislature for more funding. But they also asked Deasy and the teachers union to negotiate a less expensive deal for LAUSD employees. And — for once — United Teachers Los Angeles reps said they were ready to sit down and talk.
Nothing like some star power to screw L.A. politicians' heads on straight!
Update: Watch the rock 'n' roll monologue that might have saved a generation, below. Videography by Tessa Stuart.