Leadership for Arts Education


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This Blog is managed by Bob Morrison

About this blog:

As you may know, Mike Huckabee (the former Governor of Arkansas) is running for President of the United States. I have known Mike personally for the past 7 years. I first met him when I was on a panel at the National Governors Association presenting on strategies for improving low performing schools. After completing our presentation on the role of music and arts education as part of school reform Governor Huckabee was called upon to respond. For the next 10 minutes - without the benefit of notes - he provided a passionate account of the value and benefits of music education - citing all the facts, figures and research and then sharing his own story about how music had been so important to him. When he finished I turned to him and said, “Where have you been all my life!” I knew at that moment that we had found a kindred spirit who shared our passion for the importance of music and arts education for every child. We became instant friends.

I believe actions speak louder than words. Mike Huckabee’s actions on behalf of music and arts education are unparalleled by any elected leader in the history of our nation. Over the last seven years I have watched as Governor Huckabee has used his position of political influence to advance music and arts education. As Governor, he has passed into law the most forceful guidelines for music and arts education in any state. As Chairman of the Education Commission of the States, he made arts education his personal cause bringing together a National Commission on Arts Education to help guide him and other education policy leaders across the nation with a clear road map for advancing the arts. He sent his final report to every Governor, Commissioner of Education and education committee leaders in the bicameral houses of every state government. In his role as Chairman of the National Governors Association he brought in the highly respected author Sir Ken Robinson to speak to all of our nation’s governors about the importance of creativity, the arts education and the new economy. Another little known fact is this - in January of 2006 Governor Huckabee chaired a private meeting at the Recording Academy (home of the Grammy’s) to meet with music industry executives about advancing music and arts education. He used this meeting as a planning session - exploring how the music community could work together on an immediate issue they faced – how to pass funding for music and arts education in California. He later wrote a personal letter to Governor Schwarzenegger to offer continued encouragement and support of this initiative. These efforts helped secure a landmark $600 million reinvestment in music in arts education in California public schools - the largest investment in the history of our nation.

During this same time he created his own instrument donation program “Play It Again Arkansas” to get badly needed instruments into the hands of schools and students who did not have the resources of their own. He currently serves as a member of the Music for All National Advisory Board. For his impact and commitment to music and arts education he was honored by Americans for the Arts and The United States Conference of Mayors with the National Award for State Arts Leadership and received the Music for Life Award presented by NAMM, the International Music Products Association for his commitment to music education.

In a meeting this January, as he was considering launching his presidential exploratory committee, Mike told me that he was going to be out on the campaign trail speaking out about the important role of music and arts education as a part of the basic education for all children. He told me that whenever possible he would make it a part of every interview and his discussion of the issue would force all the other candidates address it as well.

In essence, Mike Huckabee is bringing the discussion about the importance of music and arts education into the national discourse regarding the future of our nation.

When he announced the launch of his exploratory committee on Meet the Press, Mike passionately made the case to Tim Russert on why music and arts education is an important issue for our nation. This has been followed up with interviews with This Week with George Stephanopoulos, NEWSWEEK and Don Imus among the many major newspapers and TV interviews he has done on the subject. In fact, one of the first headlines to appear in the Des Moines Register was “Huckabee focuses on health, migrants, music, art in schools.”

As the first series of presidential debates begins I have no doubt he will continue to keep the importance of music and arts education front and center.

The purpose of this blog is to help showcase Governor Huckabee's extraordinary efforts on behalf of music and arts education for everyone.