Well it is that time of year. PRESENT TIME! Once again, I ask that you indulge me by foregoing any gifts for me (hair club for men!!) and bring to some of the many more deserving, or needy, the gifts they need the most.
So here is my list of those who have been either naughty or nice with an appropriate present suggested for each!
To Secretary of Education Duncan: New Words. Yes, I know you said that the federal government has no real influence over education at the local level. But then you went out and provided buckets of cash to states that agreed to “voluntarily” raise the caps on charter schools and increase teacher accountability based on student achievement. If you really support arts education why not do the same thing? Instead of saying “We have no influence” how about a bucket of cash incentives for states “voluntarily” make the arts a requirement for EVERY student? Now that we know you are willing to use cash as a tool available for your OTHER priorities, what does this say about your support for the arts? If you are not going to put your money where your mouth is… then quit talking about how much you support the arts. Talk is cheap. Put your money where you say your priorities are or stop saying the arts are a priority. Simple.
Texas Legislature: A Day Off! The passage and implementation of a middle school arts requirement has led to a significant increase in middle school instrumental music students. Reports from Texas this fall have highlighted waiting lists of students to get into programs and music stores running out of instruments to rent.
To All Other States Legislative Bodies: A Legislative Copy Machine. This is so each state may copy what Texas has done and bring the middle school arts requirement to every state in the nation!
Supreme Court: Some Logic. The court upheld a ruling supporting a New Jersey school district’s ban on holiday music deemed to be religious… even if the music HAS NO WORDS. So, you believe PERFORMING instrumental versions of music deemed to be religious during the holidays is unconstitutional. Really? Is it just me or have we taken this whole thing a little TOO far. How can a song be offensive if there are no words to offend? What makes one combination of notes offensive and another combination not? Is the next step the harmony police? Move to the back of the class!
STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) Proponents: A Vowel! Specifically… an “A” for the arts. I know… I asked you to give this to them two years ago. Honestly, I do not think they ever opened the package. The proponents of STEM STILL feel they have exclusive province over creativity. I know, it’s crazy, but it’s STILL true.
President Obama: A Calendar. How did President Obama spend the first “arts education week” this past September? By announcing a STEM initiative. You read it correctly. With all the hype around arts education week, NATIONAL ARTS EDUCATION WEEK and you go off and schedule a big event for STEM. Is anybody paying attention over there? A new calendar I am sure will do the trick. We wouldn’t want to you to schedule another one of these during Music In Our Schools Month would we?
Charter School Advocates: Arts Classroom and Programs. The research documenting the presence of an arts program in charter schools is beginning to mount and the findings are not good. Most Charter Schools do NOT include a comprehensive arts program. A few do… mostly in arts centered charter schools. The majority of charter schools have NO arts. In an environment where there is this great movement to build more charter schools there is a compelling need to demonstrate FOR charter school leaders HOW to include the arts in their schools.
Our 2012 Presidential Candidates: A Video Compilation of the 2008 campaign! Why would I want the presidential candidates to look at this? Well, 2008 was the first time in our history where we had a majority of the presidential candidates speaking eloquently about music and arts education and the need to help support the arts in schools. Without a doubt the highest visibility of our cause ever. We can only hope the candidates, who will begin announcing plans to run as soon as we enter the New Year, will be equally out spoken for our cause. And who knows… maybe we will be able to elect someone who will not only talk about the cause of music and arts education… but actually… DO SOMETHING (see Secretary Duncan)
The Avon High School Marching Band: A New Music Wing! Let’s face it; you are going to need more space to hold all your national titles. Winning Grand Nationals once is a great accomplishment. Two times in a row is a great achievement. Three times is a row is a feat of which legends are made. Congratulations to Jay Webb, his staff, and the members of the Avon Marching Band for an incredible string of successful seasons!
Sir Ken Robinson, Daniel Pink and David Pogue: A Nationwide Tour! Their opening session at the Creativity World Forum is the stuff legends are made of. Perfect messages, from engaging messengers, tying together technology, business, education and music and arts education in a very compelling way. The more these three are talking to big crowds of decision makers and business leaders the better it will be for the rest of us.
For God: A New Music Room! This year saw the loss of many colleagues who have shaped our discipline: legendary music advocate and industry executive Karl Bruhn, University of Massachusetts Minuteman Marching Band Director George Parks (and the greatest drum major to ever live) and the legendary Florida A and M University Band leader William Foster all took there place in that big band room in the sky. With all the folks that have been using the place over the past century I am thinking everyone may be due for an upgrade. (PSST… hey God… be sure you bring the band BEHIND the stadium after they march out. Otherwise, George will sick the Tuba players on you… and you do NOT want that.)
And to our readers, who bring the wonderful gift of music to students across this nation everyday: may you have everything you may ever want and a very happy, healthy and prosperous new year!