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Kansas MEA Leaders Discuss the Impact of State Music Education Cuts with State Board of Education

On November 8 leaders of the Kansas Music Educators Association (KMEA) presented an overview of music education budget cuts and the state of music education to the Kansas Board of Education. An analysis showed more than 48% of all school districts in the state reported a loss of funding in the 2009-2010 school year.

KMEA President Craig Manteuffel, Past President Mike Quilling, President-Elect Avian Bear, and KMEA Executive Director John Taylor attended the board meeting. They presented data from the "The Impact of Budget Cuts on Music Education in Kansas' Schools." The data was prepared by Frederick Burrack, director of the office of assessment and associate professor of music education, at Kansas State University in Manhattan.

It was the fourth year such data had been collected, and Burrack wants to collect data from other states.

"The board meeting ran ahead of schedule, and we actually presented for an amazing hour and twenty minutes. The board was focused and quite receptive during our presentation," Manteuffel said.

He said, "The Executive Council of KMEA spoke mainly about the survey data and how the budget cuts are affecting music education in Kansas. We also talked with them about 21st century skills and how we are being proactive with our teachers, not just standing in the background."

The KMEA leaders also invited board members to attend their In-Service Workshop (ISW) in February 2012. NAfME President Scott Shuler, an expert on 21st century skills, will present the keynote address and clinics on the subject.

"We also talked about cuts in teacher in-service budgets, how the decreased school in-service monies, in many cases, no longer help Kansas music teachers monetarily to attend our ISW. This is something they can address as a board, and we encouraged them to do so," Manteuffel said of the November 8 meeting.

He added that the hearing was a "great time to present, because this afternoon a representative from Governor [Sam] Brownback's office was scheduled to present a proposal for a new formula for funding education in Kansas.

"We asked the board for their support and reminded them that they could start by letting the governor's representative know about the data from our survey and expressing their support for music education in Kansas. Board members asked questions, but most all of the members began by stating how they whole-heartedly support music education in Kansas. Many told personal stories of either being involved with music themselves growing up, or having relatives whose lives were positively changed by music education. This was all very exciting," Manteuffel said.

He added that, "We will continue to fight the good fight, but we all felt that today was a tremendous success for music education in Kansas."

Shuler congratulated the KMEA leaders on their efforts. "Such victories are ones that have a huge impact. Your members will benefit further if you seek opportunities - in publication and public speaking - to explain the importance of your achievement to KMEA members, so they can begin to appreciate the fine work you and others in their MEA have been doing.

"Hopefully such information will mobilize them to greater participation in advocacy. Linking your new advocacy website and subscribers to NAfME Groundswell will be one key to short-term resistance against arts-unfriendly proposals, and ultimately to advocating for improvements in music/arts education," Shuler said.

He added, "We should also make sure that this kind of state-level advocacy work is held up as a model for other states, where leaders may be wondering how best to inform policymakers about the impact of their decisions on children and music and arts education.

Burrack thanked KMEA members and expressed the hope that each NAfME federated state association will collect similar data because "it will make a powerful statement to move forward in support of music in our schools."

Chris Woodside, assistant executive director for advocacy and public affairs, said of the KMEA Executive Council, "What a fantastic job you have all done, and what a wonderful example you have set for how states can conduct proactive, successful advocacy work. My sincerest appreciation for the Kansas MEA's continued leadership in advocacy."

Article by Roz Fehr, November 21, 2011
National Association for Music Education (www.nafme.org)

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