FOCUS ON ADVOCACY: Reframing Advocacy - A Positive and Pro-Active Perspective

December 1, 2011

At the summer Steering Committee meeting, members discussed and reviewed the US Department of Education’s Fast Response Survey System May 2011 ‘First Look’ report, “A Snapshot of Arts Education in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools: 2009–10.” Although an early sample of a complete report expected later in 2012, nationwide, a high percentage of schools provide music education taught by high-quality instructors.

Though concerns continue regarding equitable access to arts education programs, the Steering Committee and a designated task force set about to reframe the Coalition’s music education advocacy message. In doing so, we simplified and unified the Coalition’s core advocacy music education message.  
A succinct document was created to positively reframe an advocacy position with the guiding theme: “Is your school in step with the rest of the country by providing access to high quality music and arts education?” Since our first meeting in July, the document has been revised extensively and, at the November 2011 SupportMusic teleconference, it was presented to the full Coalition for use in community outreach and education.
The Reframing Advocacy document is intentionally one-page. It underscores what is known both in opinion polling and research:
- school administrators, parents and teachers believe that music and arts education are essential to a complete education and,
- communities that diminish access to the arts as part of the core curriculum are not in step with the education needs of students.
It is positively framed and action-oriented, with talking points supported by concrete statistics. It also encourages readers to join the SupportMusic Coalition.
The SupportMusic Coalition offers it now as another tool to counter potential music program threats or cutbacks. (Text is below and also available as a printable PDF document.)
Join The Support Music Coalition today! Be part of the national effort to keep music education strong for every child.
Parents, teachers and administrators want and expect high quality music education for their children because of its remarkable benefits.

  • A complete education includes music and the arts for all students.
  • The Federal government’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, formerly No Child Left Behind) considers arts education to be a core academic subject.
  • School administrators, teachers and parents work hard to provide music education taught by certified, high-quality teachers. 

Is your school in step with the rest of the country? And, is access to arts education available to all students in an equitable way?
From US Department of Education’s “First Look/FRSS” report, May 2011: “A Snapshot of Arts Education in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools: 2009-10”:

  • 94% of public elementary schools offer instruction designated specifically for music.
  • Of elementary schools offering music instruction, 93% offered it at least once a week.
  • 91% of the elementary school instructors employed to teach music are specialists.
  • Public secondary schools reported that arts specialists accounted for 97% of the teachers who taught music in the 2008-2009 school year.

Music makes the difference!
• From Journal for Research in Music Education:
* Students in high quality school music education programs score higher on standardized tests compared to students in schools with deficient music education programs, independent of the socioeconomic level of the school or school district. (Dr. Christopher Johnson, University of Kansas, Spring 2007)
* Teens who participate in music education programs see music as “social glue,” as a bridge for building acceptance and tolerance for people of different ages and cultural circumstances, and associate playing music with music literacy, self-discipline, listening skills, motor ability, eye-hand coordination and heightened intellectual capabilities. (Dr. Patricia Shehan Campbell, University of Washington, Fall 2007)
• In a 12-year analysis, students with four years of high school arts and music classes have higher SAT scores than students with one-half year or less. (College Board, 2010)
• Nearly 100% of past winners in the prestigious Siemens Westinghouse Competition in Math, Science, and Technology (for high school students) play one or more musical instruments.(The Midland Chemist, American Chemical Society, 2005)
• Early childhood training in instrumental music improves visual focus, active listening and students’ abilities to stay on task; continued music education throughout adolescence reinforces and strengthens attentiveness. (Neville et al., 2008)
Get more of the tools and resources you need at

-- Debra Bresnan is a communications consultant for and a member of its Steering Committee. She produces web content, newsletters and other written materials for businesses, non-profit organizations and individuals. Contact: