On Friday, June 28, leaders from National Association for Music Education (NAfME) federated state associations, and from The Music Education Policy Roundtable (MEPR) will head to Capitol Hill to lobby their U.S. senators and congressmen for increasing access to music education in schools.
With more than 120 state leaders and others from 47 states registered to participate, this year’s Hill Day in Washington, D.C. is NAfME’s largest ever. NAfME Collegiate members also will take part for the first time.
Hill Day coincides with the annual meeting of NAfME’s National Leadership Assembly, June 29–July 1 at the Sheraton Premiere in Tysons Corner, Virginia. The National Assembly is an advisory body to the National Executive Board, as well as:
- A leadership conference
- A clearinghouse for the exchange of information concerning state, Division, and national policies, organizational functions, and activities.
NAfME’s National Executive Board consists of six division presidents and as well as nationally elected officers which include the National President, President-Elect, and Immediate Past President.
The purpose of Hill Day is to:
- Share NAfME’s mission
- Share the Music Education Policy Roundtable’s 2013 Federal Legislative Agenda
- Build ongoing relationships with legislators
In a recent Hill Day webinar, Shannon Kelly, NAfME Director of Advocacy Capacity Building and communications, offered some tips for setting up visits with elected officials. The websites for the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate are good places to start the research, she said.
Before a legislative visit, Kelly said it helps to do some research on the elected official— reading his or her biography to find any shared areas of interest, or studying which committees on which the official serves. She also urged Hill Day participants to share personal stories about their music education careers when appropriate.
The second part of the Hill visit is the message NAfME leaders will carry to elected officials on the Hill. The message is based on the 2013 MEPR Legislative Agenda.
NAfME and the American String Teachers Association (ASTA) founded MEPR, which now has 21 members. The Roundtable’s policy mandate is to ensure that Congress maintains the status of the arts as a core academic subject in any reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
The 2013 Agenda of Legislative Recommendations are that:
- Music educators should be evaluated qualified individuals using reliable measures germane to their field, NAfME has a position on successful, fair teacher evaluations.
- The U.S. Department of Education should collect research to support the field of music education.
- Accountability provisions, which include a measure of music success are essential.
- Funding should be made available to music programs through all appropriate ESEA-authorized programs.
- School day accessibility to music education programs should be increased across the United States.
- Charter schools, consistent with all public schools, should provide students with a comprehensive education, including access to sequential, standards-based music education.
NAfME leaders also will carry binders of inspiring stories that music educators, parents, students and musicians submitted to NAfME’s Share Your Story campaign.
Christopher Woodside, Assistant Executive director, NAfME Center for Advocacy & Public Affairs, said he was “delighted” that so many leaders have registered to participate in 2013 Hill Day.
California MEA Rallies Support for Music Education
In other advocacy news, on May 24, the California Music Educators Association (CMEA), along with representatives of like-minded music education organizations, visited the California Legislature in Sacramento to advocate for access to quality music education for all California students. The day included visits to legislators and student performances.
Organizers aimed to call attention to the importance of reinstating music programs that have suffered as a result of state budget cuts. California Assembly member Ian Calderon (D-Whittier), chair of the Assembly Arts, Entertainment, Sports and Internet Media Committee, and a former music student, sponsored the rally.
CMEA President Russ Sperling said, “The event went very well! The Mira Costa High School Wind Ensemble,directed by Joel Carlson, from Manhattan Beach, performed in front of the Capitol and did an outstanding job of representing quality music education in California.”
He added “At our event we were joined by Dana Mitchell, Chief Consultant, Assembly Committee on Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism and Internet Media. Calderon also made excellent, supportive remarks. [Mitchell] was a band student in school. I know… that several staffers were in attendance and carried on conversations with our folks throughout the event. We made some wonderful contacts.”
“We believe access to music education for all students has been the answer to so many education issues… and it’s time now to reinvest in our state’s music programs,” Sperling added.
He said that support in California for public school music programs is strong, “more than 90 percent.”
U.S. Capitol Photo by Roz Fehr; Other photos courtesy of CMEA
Roz Fehr, NAfME Managing Editor for News, May 30, 2013. © National Association for Music Education