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After the state budget cuts in education, it has often been the school arts and music programs which have felt the most effect. A common response in school districts across the state has been simply not to replace music teachers who retire. The workload is then increased for the remaining teachers, and many music classes are just eliminated.
The Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA) wants to draw attention to the situation and point out some of the long term negative effects this will have for students and for programs such as high school bands. The PMEA is planning its second annual Music Education Advocacy Day at the Capitol in Harrisburg on Wednesday, March 13.
A rally will be held in the Main Rotunda beginning at 10:30 a.m., with speeches by arts advocates and performances by school music groups. PMEA members from across the state will also be meeting with their representatives and senators to share a core message of the importance of a standards-based arts curriculum taught by certified arts educators.
A key part of the message to state legislators is that there is federal money available known as Title I and Title II which could be available to schools to be used for music and arts education.
The state assembly has just established an Arts and Culture caucus, and members of the new caucus will be supporting the PMEA efforts, including an initiative to establish a new arts credit requirement.
With nationwide emphasis on what is called STEM education – Science, Technology, English and Math – the music educators hope to generate support for what they call STEAM education – Science, Technology, English, Arts and Math.
Information on events at the capitol throughout the month of March can be found at the PMEA website, and you can hear our interview feature on the advocacy day below.
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