October 13, 2009
Elections Code Section 52710, we have reviewed the proposed initiative
regarding Christmas music in public primary and secondary schools (A.G.
File No. 09‑0030).
The current Supreme Court interpretation of the
First Amendment allows public schools to study religious practices,
including holidays, if the tone of the education is not devotional in
nature. That is, art, literature, or music with religious themes may be
presented if they serve the academic goals of the school but may not be
used as a vehicle to promote religious belief. Additionally, school
concerts that present a variety of musical selections may include
Given existing law and judicial interpretation,
schools currently are able to offer Christmas music curricula if the
curricula are used for academic rather than devotional purposes. In
California, the funding for such curricula likely comes from schools'
Proposition 98 funding allocations. Proposition 98 provides a guaranteed
minimum amount of funding for K-14 education.
Requires Christmas Music Curricula.
This measure requires that all public elementary and secondary schools
offer opportunities for its pupils to listen to and/or perform Christmas
music. Schools are further required to provide appropriate notice to
parents and guardians as well as offer alternatives to the Christmas
music curricula should some students choose not to participate. These
opportunities are to be provided during an art or social studies class,
an assembly, or both, at the seasonally appropriate time.
Impact on State School Costs. This
initiative would have no fiscal impact at the state level because it
does not affect Proposition 98 funding levels.
Impact on Local School District Costs.
At the local level, all school districts likely would incur some
additional costs due to the parental notification requirement. Districts
also could incur costs to provide students opportunities to listen to
and/or perform Christmas music and to oversee those students who decide
to opt out of listening to Christmas music. These annual costs, which
would vary by district, probably would be minor.
Summary of Fiscal Effects
This measure would have the following fiscal
Probably minor annual costs to school districts.
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