State Advocacy

The passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) moved much of the decision-making for education policy to lawmakers at the state level. ESSA also encourages stakeholders, such as educators, principals, parents, practitioners, and other school leaders, to be actively involved in the decision-making process. The majority of states across the country have adopted new state music standards, and more are in the process of doing so. With lawmakers and a new federal law emphasizing the important role of states in education policy, along with new state action to support standards-based music education, now is the time to advocate at the state level to advance music education.

The most important advocates for music education at the state level are the federated state music education associations (MEAs), affiliated with the National Association for Music Education (NAfME). MEAs are active in all 50 states and the District of Columbia (as well as in support of the Department of Defense schools), and work with NAfME toward the general goal of advancing music education by promoting the understanding and making of music by all. 

To find your state MEA and find out how to get more involved, click here.

Download the NAfME Civic Action Field Guide to learn more about action you can take at the local and state level.

Advocacy Leadership Force

The NAfME Advocacy Leadership Force (ALF) is comprised of state advocacy chairs representing 43 state MEAs. The ALF meets once a month to share ideas that help its members become more effective advocates in their states.

Through this group, state music education advocates discuss issues affecting music education at the state level and learn where to focus advocacy for education issues on the federal level. 

You can find your ALF representative here.

State Advocacy Support

NAfME’s Public Policy Team works closely with affiliated state MEAs to support and protect equal access to quality music education for all students in all states. Click here for more information on how NAfME can help your state accomplish your goals. 


CMA State Advocacy Grant Awards

country musicThe Country Music Association (CMA) Foundation understands the need to create advocacy resources at the state level. Guided by the generosity of the Country Music community, the CMA Foundation focuses on improving and sustaining music education programs everywhere, while supporting worthwhile causes important to the Country Music Association. Since its inception, the CMA Foundation has given more than $27 million to organizations enhancing the lives of students through the power of music.

CMA has partnered with NAfME to administer the State Music Education Association Advocacy Grants. These grants support the work of our state MEAs by augmenting existing advocacy initiatives and creating new advocacy opportunities. In 2022, 3 state MEAs were awarded grants to aid their advocacy efforts.   

The 2023 CMA Foundation State Advocacy Grant application opens on March 6, 2023. Deadline for submission is May 5, 2023. Click here to see the application criteria and questions.

2023 Country Music Association (CMA) Foundation State Music Education Advocacy Grant Application— Closing May 5th 11:59 pm

For information on the recipients and their proposed advocacy initiatives, please visit this page.

Excellence in Advocacy Award 

The Excellence in Advocacy Award, presented annually at the NAfME National Leadership Assembly, recognizes a state MEA for outstanding accomplishments in music education advocacy. The advocacy work has included meeting with State Boards of Education, lobbying state legislatures, working to increase public funding, and raising awareness for music education.

The Excellence in Advocacy Award winner will be determined by a set of guiding principles:

  • Establishing new or reinvigorating existing advocacy programs to increase equity and access in music education
  • Establishing new or reinvigorating existing advocacy initiatives, to inform lawmakers on the importance of equity and access to music education
  • Building new or reinvigorating existing relationships with other education stakeholders to raise awareness of arts education in the state
  • Taking an involved role in education policy and rulemaking at the state and local level to promote and support music education

Previous recipients of the Excellence in Advocacy Award include:

2014 Music Standards

The 2014 Music Standards emphasize conceptual understanding in areas that reflect the actual processes in which musicians engage. The standards cultivate a student’s ability to carry out the three Artistic Processes of creating, performing, and responding. 

The new standards provide teachers with frameworks that closely match the unique goals of their specialized classes. The standards are presented in a grade-by-grade sequence from pre-K through 8th grade, and discrete strands address common high-school music classes, such as Ensembles and Music Composition/Theory. The standards are provided in “strands” that represent the principal ways music instruction is delivered in the United States.

32 states have adopted or are in the process of creating their own music and arts standards. Read here to get involved!