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President Donald Tump has boasted in the past (he later backpedaled on this) that, as a second-grader, he punched his music teacher, giving him a black eye.

“I didn’t think he knew anything about music,” Trump explained. “It’s clear evidence that even early on I had a tendency to stand up and make my opinions known in a very forceful way.” What if that was that just the first such hit?

Trump’s recently proposed budget would cut funding to the Education Department by 13 percent – specifically arts, civics, foreign languages, history, and basic literacy, among others (who needs to know any of that stuff, anyway?). This is on top of previous Trump recommendations to eliminate both the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Perhaps of most direct relevance to readers of MMR, though, is the proposed “zeroing-out” of a $1.69 billion innovation fund – a resource that is available for individual states and districts to provide a “well-rounded” education. The loss of this fund would unquestionably and inevitably impact public school music education programs in profoundly negative ways. Worried yet?

NAMM’s Mary Luehrsen, for one, is and she isn’t taking any of this lying down. “’Zero’ sends an emotional, philosophical message that for us, frankly, is just not acceptable,” she recently told USA Today. Luehrsen was, once again, in D.C. late last month, along with other NAMM members, industry leaders, musicians, and arts & education advocates as part of the annual NAMM Fly-In, meeting with members of Congress and other key policy makers to help ensure that music is recognized as an important part of a child’s complete education.

Efforts like the Fly-In are more important now than ever – a fact not fully understood by some. When the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed into law in 2015, many assumed that, in large part, the “fight” was over. We had won. Music education would now formally, across the board, be recognized as a core subject throughout the nation. Not so fast.

While President Obama made ESSA the law of the land two years ago, the legislation doesn’t actually get implemented by individual states until 2018. If the cuts now on the table, outlined in President Trump’s proposed budget, become reality, that state-level implementation may not be either as comprehensive nor as easy as initially hoped.

Here’s the thing: it doesn’t matter if you like and admire Trump or loathe him; it’s not of direct importance what your party affiliation is, whether you identify as liberal or conservative has little bearing; it’s not important if you ‘Cofveve’ or not – the issue at hand is one that transcends political ideology or individual philosophy. Music education in U.S. schools – the engine that generates those music-makers who ultimately (hopefully) go to your stores, buy instruments and gear from you, putting food on the table and keeping the lights on in your homes – is not out of the woods yet. If the individuals and communities which benefit from, and believe strongly in, the importance of music education are complacent, we won’t have anyone to blame but ourselves if we wind up with a black eye.

 

 



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