Petition's Progress: Mrs. America Delegates Advocate Coast to Coast

If you attend a school concert or symphony performance, you might run into your state’s Mrs. America delegate. That’s where these women have been talking to students, parents, and other community members who agree that every child has a right to a high-quality music education.

Mrs. America delegates in 31 states and the District of Columbia are collecting signatures on MENC’s Equal Access to Music Education Petition and donations for the Change Drive to Change Education. Participating delegates are from Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Idaho, Iowa, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming.

Mrs. America delegates collect petition signatures at a concert in Sacramento, CA.

“Mrs. Oklahoma” Allison Greco and “Mrs. California” Tiffany Ellison teamed up to collect signatures at a recent Sacramento Choral and Orchestral Society Concert, where many of the performers are MENC members. “The SCOS provided free tickets for both of us and our husbands, announced us in the opening remarks, and displayed our mission in the super titles. We should be able to get a couple hundred more signatures from them through their newsletter and choir,” says Greco.

The delegates’ energy and presence, along with their dedication to music education, can be counted on to draw a crowd and motivate people of all ages to sign the petition and donate to the change drive. Supporting music education is part of the official Mrs. America, Inc. platform.

An elementary music student contributes to the change drive, hosted at his school by 2009 contestant Sonya Hoadley.

Mrs. Idaho 2009 contestant Sonya Hoadley met a young, enthusiastic music education advocate when she set up a petition table at a 2nd and 3rd grade music concert in Caldwell, Idaho: “I had one boy show up with all of the change from his piggy bank. His mom told me that he went home and said, ‘I need to bring my change to the concert tonight because there are some kids that don’t have music at their school,’” says Hoadley.

In Kentucky, where arts classes are only required through the fifth grade, state pageant director JoAnn Peterson initiated the MENC People’s Choice Award, which recognizes the 2009 contestant who gathers the most signatures and change for MENC’s campaign. Peterson says, “We at Mrs. Kentucky believe in this important issue and want to make an effort to go beyond Mrs. America’s expectations.” Following Peterson’s lead, fellow pageant director Tracy Crist is implementing the People’s Choice Award in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas.

Mrs. Arkansas 2009 contestants turn in signed petitions.

MENC’s goal is to present one million petition signatures to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan at the June 18 Rally for Music Education in Washington, DC. Along with the paper petitions, members and advocates can sign and circulate the online petition.

–Anne Wagener, April 10, 2009 © MENC: The National Association for Music Education