Across the United States, music educators, students and parents are fanning out to collect signatures in MENC’s Petition for Equal Access to Music Education. Kansas music educators did their part in February, collecting more than 1,300 signatures. Their efforts continued into March.
Two sisters, Lori Nelson and Nancy Green, both Kansas music educators, stopped by the MENC booth in the exhibit hall at the 2009 Kansas Music Educators Association In-Service Workshop and Conference in Wichita.
In Kansas Lori Nelson and Nancy Green stepped up to sign the Petition for Equal Access to Music Education.
Nelson teaches at Soderstrom Elementary School in Lindsborg, while Green teaches at Scott City Elementary School. Both enthusiastically signed the petition. Nelson said she and Green always attend the conference together. “I am happy to sign,” she said. “We need this for our kids.”
In all, more than 160 people signed the petition the MENC booth. KMEA members also signed at the KMEA booth in the hall, drawn to the table by a video performance of MENC’s World’s Largest Concert® (WLC®).
“Mrs. Kansas” Kim McDowell and former KMEA president Robert Lee
Robert E. Lee, a past KME A president, and “Mrs. Kansas” Kim McDowell collected signatures on behalf of MENC, many of them at the All-State Festival concerts.
Another music teacher, Joan Simenau of Burrton, Kansas, showed what is possible when music educators take part. The band director attended a Heart of the Plains League basketball tournament with her high school pep band. She returned five petition sheets filled with signatures to the MENC booth the next day. “I got a great response. Parents and others were happy to sign,” she said.
After the conference KMEA members also participated in Arts Day at the Capitol in Topeka, continuing to champion the cause of equal access to music education, Lee said.
In early March, just returned from a Washington, DC press conference where President Barack Obama nominated her to be Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius met with KMEA members. Lee said she has been “a strong supporter of the arts in Kansas.” The governor also signed a proclamation designating March as Music In Our Schools Month® (MIOSM®).
Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius listens to Robert Lee discuss music education.
The petition drive continues through the spring. Paper petitions are due May 15, and an online petition is also being circulated by MENC members and music education supporters.
Photos by Roz Fehr, Troy Johnson and Rebecca Rogers
— Roz Fehr, March 26, 2009. © MENC: The National Association for Music Education