Music in Our Schools Month and Joe Sugar Day
Music In our Schools Month® (MIOSM®) was designed to raise awareness of the importance of music education for all children, and to remind citizens that school is where all children should have access to music. During MIOSM, music educators and students throughout the United States and overseas are demonstrating the powerful role a quality music program plays in the lives of young people.
The roots of MIOSM can be traced to New York State where the first MIOSM was celebrated on March 14, 1973. Governor Nelson Rockefeller recognized MIOSM in proclamation in 1973, and recognition of MIOSM continues from the Governor’s office today. New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo once again proclaimed March 2017 Music in our Schools Month. In his proclamation, Governor Cuomo noted that the New York State School Music Association (NYSMMA) is collaborating with NAfME to “reflect the importance of music education in our schools and highlight the cultural significance of music.”
Today, March 6th, is Joe Sugar Day, NYSSMA yearly visit to legislators to advocate for music education. The advocacy day named after Joe Sugar, the long-time NYSSMA music education advocate, has inspired music advocacy across the country, in no small part, through the creation of Music in our Schools Month.
This month, many state music education associations (MEA) will be hosting advocacy days where music educators from across their state will meet with their lawmakers in advancing the mission of music for and by all students. As we await their accounts and success stories of their work, it is important to remember that advocacy is a year-long proposition that takes incredible energy and resources from our state MEAs across the country. With no rest for the weary, here is what some of our state MEAs have already accomplished this year:
Iowa Alliance for Arts Education Advocacy Day—January 25th
The Iowa Alliance for Arts Education hosted its 4th annual advocacy day with positive outcomes where legislators learned about who they were and what they wished to accomplish. Seventeen new legislators were targeted this year as arts advocates made their case for arts education in a cost-cutting environment. Elementary school choirs and school choirs showcased the arts with amazing performances.
Wisconsin Music Educators Association Drive-in Day—February 8th
As part of WMEA’s Drive-in Day, twenty music educators, administrators, school board members, parents, and business owners met with 14 state senators and 15 state representatives during their drive-in day. The main legislative ask was to create coordination between federal and state law to better exemplify the national shift to a “well-rounded” education. Such coordination would clear any ambiguity for school districts applying for Title IV Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) Grants.
WMEA Drive-In Day
Oregon Music Educators Association’s Day at the Capitol—February 20th
Sixteen OMEA Members demonstrated their commitment to Oregon students by lobbying the legislature for fully funded education in coalition with other educators and citizens from around the state. They spoke in coalition with over 400 other leaders from around the state and asked our legislators to support better funding for schools and other vital services in Oregon. They will hold yet another Day at the Capitol on March 25th.
OMEA Day at the Capitol
Minnesota Drive-in Advocacy Day—February 28th
Minnesota Citizens for the Arts’s Drive-in advocacy day focused on funding for the State Arts Board and the Regional Arts Council. Specifically, advocates asked to protect the 47 percent dedication of the Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund to the State Arts Board and Regional Arts Centers, as well as maintain the general funding to the State Arts Board and Regional Arts Centers. The day proved to be a huge success as the advocacy day had a record turnout with over 1,000 advocates who met with their representatives and senators in teams of 19 to 100.
Nebraska Music Educators Association Joins Statehood Day—March 1st
March 1st was Nebraska’s 150th birthday, and NMEA collaborated with the NE150 Celebration with a “Sing Across Nebraska” and performances in the Capitol Rotunda. Students from across the state in Nebraska schools sang “Happy Birthday, dear Nebraska” at the same time at 2pm. Additionally, different ensembles from the across the state performed throughout the day at the Capitol. The celebration will continue on March 8th with the Ashland-Greenwood Junior High School Concert Band at the Capitol Rotunda.
We’ll be sure to continue updating music education advocates of the success stories of MIOSM as state MEAs continue their work this month.
Tooshar Swain, Policy Advisor, Center for Advocacy, Policy, and Constituency Engagement, March 6, 2017. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)