MMEA Collegiate Members Advocate for Music Education

On Friday, March 17, 2017, I had the honor of leading twenty members of the MMEA Collegiate Chapter in the first annual MMEA Advocacy Day at the State House. Organized by MMEA Collegiate President Rebecca Reed, students from across the state participated in meetings with state representatives and discussed the value of music education. The group scheduled meetings with their elected officials as well as the leadership of both the Committee on Education and Committee on Higher Education.

The meetings and asks were designed in collaboration with the National Association of Music Education and the National Association of Music Merchants. The main focus was to establish relationships with elected officials, express collegiate personal stories, distribute research-based materials, and be relentlessly positive about the benefits of music education. The collegiate members were knowledgeable, professional, and built a solid foundation for future advocacy efforts.

The organization presented three asks to each office:

  1. Include an arts requirement for higher education admissions, which in turn would enforce arts participation in high schools across the state.
  2. Begin the process for revising the Arts Curriculum Framework of 1999, using the 2014 National Core Arts Standards as a model.
  3. Further define “Access to Arts” in the ESSA Implementation Plan to include access for all students and delivered by a qualified music educator.

All representatives' offices were receptive to meetings and willing to offer support and guidance on next steps.

For the MMEA Collegiate Chapter, this experience was significantly impactful. Rebecca Reed, MMEA President, said that she is “incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to meet with those in office to share what truly connects us as humans: music. In every single conversation, music was a commonality and legislators and legislative aids could all identify with the importance of music education.” Laura Shulz, of Gordon College, shares that “this experience was truly eye-opening. I learned how complex and important government is, as well as the importance of taking the time to actually go and talk to legislators in an organized way that accomplishes something valuable.”

Next steps include coordinating with other arts leaders in Massachusetts and bringing our asks to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. This advocacy day will be an annual event and we look forward to continued leadership!

About the author:
John Mlynczak is Advocacy Chair for MMEA, President of the Technology Institute for Music Educators, and Vice President of Noteflight, A Hal Leonard company. Mr. Mlynczak teaches several courses on music and technology and is a frequent clinician on both technology and advocacy.

posted on May 12, 2017