2015 Advocacy Day Update

Advocacy Day will be held March 25, 2015 at the State Capitol in Harrisburg
Schedule For The Day:
9:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. 

10:00 a.m. 
- Owen J Roberts HS Chorus, Main Rotunda
- State College Flute Ensemble, East Wing

11:00 a.m.
News Conference

-  Academy of Notre Dame Chorus, Main Rotunda
- Big Spring HS Jazz & Vocal Ensemble, East Wing

Making Appointments
We ask that you schedule appointments with your members of the General Assembly.  Links to find your representatives are available here:
After you find your legislatures, call or email their Harrisburg office to schedule an appointment.  It is perfectly OK to meet with a member of their staff if the member of General Assembly is not available.  It is highly likely that the member will not be available. If they ask for the topic of the meeting, you can say that it is: the value of music education and the state education budget.
If possible, try to schedule your appointments around our 11 am news conference.  However, that is not required.  We would like as large of an audience as possible for the news conference.

What Are We Asking For?

You can download of 2015 Legislative asks here: 2015 PMEA Legislative Recommendations with talking points  On this document, you will also find talking points to help you in these meetings.

What To Do On Advocacy Day?

We would suggest that you arrive at least 30 minutes before your first appointment.  For information on parking and other logistical information, please visit this site.

Review this document to learn what to expect in a legislative meeting: What to Expect in a legislative meeting

PMEA will have a table set up in the Main Rotunda of the Capitol. Please stop by this table and let us know what legislators you plan to visit.  We will present you with a copy of a book that you’ll leave in the legislative office.  You can download and view that book: “How Has Music Education Impacted Your Life?” prior to Advocacy Day to review it.

When you take this book to a legislative office, explain to them that it is collection of Pennsylvanians that believe in music education.  You can refer them directly to the pages for the counties they represent. When you are speaking with them about our legislative asks, refer to page 4 of the book because our asks are printed there.

If your schedule allows, please plan to join us at 11 am in the Rotunda for a news conference.

After Advocacy Day, if you have any news to report from your meetings or you received some valuable feedback from a legislator or a staff member, please email that information to PMEA Advancement of Music Education Council Chair, Mark Despotakis at

Advocacy and Public Policy News from Advancement of Music Education Council Chair Mark Despotakis
I wanted to share some updates from the advocacy and public policy world.
As you may have heard this week, Governor Wolf released his proposed budget. In his budget address, Wolf actually mentioned “band.” In referencing budgets of the past four years, Wolf said “And it forced too many schools to cut art and band to pay for reading and math.” Certainly a positive statement coming from Wolf, who himself is a former tuba player.
 Some of the highlights as they relate to education are:
  • Increase of $400 million for Basic Education Subsidy (6.98% increase). This combined line item includes what was for 2014-15 separate line items for Basic Subsidy, Accountability Block Grant, and Ready to Learn Block Grant.
  • Increase of $100 million for Special Education (9.55% increase).
  • Increase of $120 million for Early Education – Pre-K Counts and Supplemental Head Start – (87.93% increase).
  • Increase of $23 million for Career and Technical Education (37.10% increase).
  • Increase of $4.6 million for Adult and Family Literacy (38.10% increase).
  • Increase of $15 million for Community Colleges (6.98% increase).
  • Increase of $45.302 million to the State System of Higher Education (10.98% increase).
  • Increase of $82.138 million to State-Related Universities (15.76% increase).
  • Increase of $2 million for the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA) grants to arts organizations (23.3% increase).
You can see how the proposal would impact your school district if enacted here:
Of course, it’s a LONG way away from June 30th so it’s anyone’s guess what happens between now and then. The biggest question will be how will the state pay for these increases in spending. Governor Wolf laid out his proposal. It’s fair to say that members of the General Assembly will have their own ideas.
All of that said, this does put PMEA in a good position for our legislative asks.  This year we have three main asks of Pennsylvania policy makers.
1- We want to see an increase to the basic education subsidy so school districts can restore and sure up where cuts have been made in the past few years. We hope school districts will choose to allow this money to be used for music and arts programs.
2- We want to see a fair funding formula. The Fair Funding Commission is working on a plan and it’s expected to be made public in the late spring. We hope to see a more equitable funding system that all equal access and funding for all students across Pennsylvania.
3- We want to see the Pennsylvania Department of Education restore the Arts Content Area Advisor to their staff. This position was eliminated from the 2011-12 state budget. This could be the year to get this position back with so much support for education coming from the Governor and the General Assembly. The position provides support and guidance to teachers throughout the state.
On March 4th, PMEA leadership met with leaders in the General Assembly and received a proclamation from Representative Eddie Day Pashinski (a former music teacher) designating March as Music In Our Schools Month. Our meetings with members of the General Assembly left us feeling very hopeful that the days of cuts to education are nearing their end. The devil is still in the details but this is the most optimistic reaction we’ve heard from policy makers in recent years. Here’s a quick video highlighting the event:
While in Harrisburg, PMEA received a resolution from the Pennsylvania House designating March as Music In Our Schools Month. The resolution also recognized the work of music educators in Pennsylvania. Pictured here are: Chuck Neidhardt, a PMEA Past President; Abi Young, PMEA Assistant Executive Director; Margaret Bauer, PMEA Executive Director; Representative Eddie Day Pashinski; Dennis Emert, PMEA President; Mark Despotakis, PMEA Advancement of Music Education Council Chair and Representative Tim Briggs.

While in Harrisburg, PMEA received a resolution from the Pennsylvania House designating March as Music In Our Schools Month. The resolution also recognized the work of music educators in Pennsylvania. Pictured here are: Chuck Neidhardt, a PMEA Past President; Abi Young, PMEA Assistant Executive Director; Margaret Bauer, PMEA Executive Director; Representative Eddie Day Pashinski; Dennis Emert, PMEA President; Mark Despotakis, PMEA Advancement of Music Education Council Chair and Representative Tim Briggs.

But, it doesn’t just happen. We need your help. We need PMEA members to show up at the Capitol in Harrisburg with us on March 25. That’s one day before the conference so come in a day early and bring some students with you too!  See more details on that below.
We’re asking PMEA members to come to the Capitol and help us distribute the book we collectively wrote titled “How Has Music Education Impacted your Life?” Every member of the General Assembly will receive a copy of the book and it will include our legislative asks. We want you to make appointments to meet with your elected representatives or their staff members on March 25th. You can find your legislator here:

PMEA’s Fourth Annual Music Education Advocacy Day, which will take place on Wednesday, March 25 at the Capitol in Harrisburg. For those of you already heading to the PMEA conference in Hershey, travel by way of Harrisburg and join us for this very important advocacy event. Bring your students and take advantage of this great opportunity to educate them about the inner workings of state government. Please spread the word to your music community as all students, family and friends are welcomed to attend.

PMEA Advancement of Music Education Council Chair Mark Despotakis, along with the entire council, has been hard at work planning this event. A News Conference will be held at 11 a.m. in the Main Rotunda. As part of this year’s event, each legislator will be presented with a book compiled of responses to the question “How Music Education Has Impacted Your Life?” A huge thank you to everyone (members, students, community members) who have contributed to the 1200+ responses we received.

Make every month Music In Our Schools Month. Check out this article to give you the month by month advocacy activities to help your program.

Article by former PMEA Outstanding Superintendent, Joseph Batory

Cutting Upper Darby’s Elementary Music and Art Programs in a Dangerous “Roll of the Dice” Educationally

NAfME Advocacy for All: A Guide to Member Resources

Overview (How NAfME Advocates for You)

Advocacy Resources (Tools for Conducting Proactive Advocacy and Crisis Management)

  1. NAfME Advocacy Groundswell
    NAfME Advocacy Groundswell is a social media-based advocacy hub designed to cultivate an online community of NAfME members from across the country interested in participating in advocacy initiatives, engaging in discussions about advocacy and regularly digesting advocacy news.
  2. Legislative Memo 
    Twice a month briefing on music education policy issues. Features a segment focusing on music advocacy efforts taking place at the state and local level.
  3. Support Music Counterpoint Archives
    A highly focused series of articles by authors like John Benham on music education-related topics like advocacy, coalition- building, and budgeting, among many others.
  4. Music Advocacy: Moving From Survival to Vision by John Benham
    Co-published with: The National Association for Music Education

This book is a summary of the practice of music advocacy. It is a compilation of research and experience gained from 30 years experience by one of the nation’s most successful advocates for music education. It provides the music educator, administrator, school board member, and community advocate with step-by-step procedures for saving and building school music programs. The methods presented in this book are responsible for saving $70 million in proposed music cuts equivalent to approximately 2000 teaching positions and 400,000 music students.

NAfME Federal Requests (Working to Protect Music at the National Level)

In any reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, we ask Congress to:

For a printer friendly version of this document, click here.

PMEA Advocacy DVD Available Online

The abbreviated version (approximately 12 minutes long) of PMEA’s award winning DVD, The Music Lesson: Treat Music Like it Really Matters is now Online via YouTube by searching for PMEA Music Lesson. The full length DVD was recently recognized with a national Telly Awards for best documentary. Viewers see how important music is to the students and the school, the influence of the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association to music teachers, testing, scheduling and budgets, incorporating music into the curriculum, starting an advocacy program and what it takes to have a successful program. If you want people on your side, share this outstanding video. Both the full and abbreviated versions of the DVD are available for purchase online by selecting the Online Store menu option and typing the keyword “advocacy” into the search box.