FMEA Collegiate Music Education Day
Last month, about 30 collegiate members of the Florida Music Education Association (FMEA) hosted their first ever collegiate advocacy day at Florida’s state capitol building in Tallahassee, Florida. Students from the University of Central Florida, Florida Atlantic University, Florida A&M, and Florida State University (FSU) came together at FMEA Collegiate Music Education Day.
“The day began with a one-hour meeting in the Old Senate Chamber in the Florida Historic Capitol Museum (this building served Florida as the Capitol prior to the new building’s completion in the 1970s),” noted NAfME collegiate member Andrew Burk. “During this meeting, we focused on two important topics: the importance of advocacy, and how to share your story and communicate with legislators.”
Speakers included Executive Director of Florida Music Education Association Dr. Kathleen D. Sanz (recently elected 2016-18 NAfME National President-Elect); Ms. Jeanne Reynolds, FMEA Government Relations Chairman; Government Consultant Frank Meiners; and NAfME Collegiate members Emmanuel Rodriguez, Michael Gabriel, and Andrew Burk. They all provided a workshop on how to speak with legislators effectively. Jeanne Reynolds prepared an example script outline that helped students plan their talking points.
“The primary goal for the day was to make pre-service music educators in Florida aware of their state’s legislative process,” said Andrew. “By physically visiting their Capitol and their lawmakers, it is our hope that these pre-professionals are going to be engaged in the political process as it relates to their careers so that they may try to influence state policy that allows them to better serve their students. This event served as excellent practice in training future music teachers how to advocate for their program, and we believe that students walked away feeling empowered.”
The session followed up with participation in key meetings, where collegiates had the opportunity to advocate for a better music education environment to Florida legislators and their staff.
“It took only 30 college students to be a noticeable presence at the Florida Capitol—imagine what music education could be if we all worked together to advocate for our profession.”
“Our conversations with legislators were primarily about our love and respect for the music education profession,” shared Andrew. “Our goal was to share why we believe that Florida should continue to support music education in schools. We each gave personal stories as to why music helped us grow during our K-12 experience, and we shared why we are choosing to enter the field of music education. We wanted to highlight all of the positive benefits one receives when they make music.
“One outstanding memory from the day was our meeting with Florida Representative Keith Perry (R- District 21),” Andrew continued. “Representative Perry is the Vice-Chair of the Education Committee, and this year he introduced legislation that would increase the amount of time that public elementary school students would spend in music classes. While this bill did not become law, we enjoyed thanking him for his efforts to make music more accessible in Florida schools.”
Later the FSU pep band, the Seminole Sound, performed on the grounds of the Florida State Capitol, while collegiates enjoyed having photos taken with their state legislators.
“To advocate for something, you have to go out of your way,” Andrew encourages fellow collegiates. “When you go out of your way to send a letter, call a legislative office staff, or visit a legislator face to face, they will listen. The right to vote means that you are one of their hiring managers, and they are there to serve you. If you join the efforts to advocate for music education at the state or national level, you will make the cause one important voice stronger. It took only 30 college students to be a noticeable presence at the Florida Capitol—imagine what music education could be if we all worked together to advocate for our profession.”
For more information on Florida MEA and their Collegiate Music Education Day, please visit fmea.flmusiced.org.
NAfME applauds the collegiate members in Florida for their outstanding work. As the future of music education, all collegiate members have an important part in advocating for the profession. Advocating is EASY; all you need is the right tools so you can make a difference in your community.
Looking for ways to help finance your visit to D.C.? Check out “How to Pay for Hill Day” for tips from a past Collegiate Advocacy Summit attendee. Your State MEA might even have scholarship or sponsorship opportunities—like Florida MEA!
Ronny Lau, Legislative Policy Advisor, Center for Advocacy, Policy, and Constituency Engagement, and Catherina Hurlburt, Communications Manager, March 23, 2016. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)