SCMEA Leaders Advocate for Music Ed with Federal Elected Officials during Appropriations Season

June 17, 2024 |

On June 12, 2024, more than 300 music education leaders and advocates convened in Washington, DC, to share the importance of music education with their federal legislators. President Colleen Marcou (Irmo), President-Elect Tom Finigan (Colleton County), and Executive Director Patti Foy (Converse University) from the South Carolina Music Educators Association were among the many voices from across the country advocating for music education during the annual National Association for Music Education (NAfME) Hill Day.

“Teachers, by nature, are leaders—in their classroom, community, and most recently on Capitol Hill,” said NAfME President Deb Confredo. “The annual NAfME Hill Day provides a wonderful opportunity to engage with legislators and share the benefits of music teaching and learning. Thanks to the congressional offices, music educators, and advocates who made this year’s Hill Day a resounding success!”

Tom Finigan stated, “What a week! I’m so thankful for this opportunity to grow as an educator, network with AMAZING teachers nationwide, and learn more about the excellent organization, the National Association for Music Education!”

The South Carolina Music Delegation met with Tim Scott, the United States Senator from South Carolina. Senator Scott stated how vital music education is in our schools: “It engages the mind in a completely different way. We need music in our schools, and the facts are undeniable when you do your homework and research. Thank you for what you do for our students.”

The South Carolina Music Delegation also met with South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn. Colleen Marcou stated, “Congressmen Clyburn told us how important music was in his life and how his parents required him to take piano lessons.” Clyburn stated that he played clarinet, saxophone, percussion, and piano. His favorite opera is Madam Butterfly, and he played clarinet in the orchestra. He values music in our schools. 

The SCMEA leaders also met with US Senator Lindsey Graham’s office. When meeting with members of Congress, attendees shared their personal experiences of music education’s positive impact on their students and communities. These anecdotes helped facilitate conversation on how legislators can support federal programs and legislation ensuring all students have access to a well-rounded education that includes music.

NAfME advocates for federal programs that support a well-rounded education, such as Titles I, II, and IV-A of the Every Student Succeeds Act. Increased investment in these programs is even more vital in FY 2025 as schools must obligate their COVID relief funding by September 2024. Survey data from the association and partner organizations indicate those funds were used to purchase instruments, increase staffing for music programs, and provide content-specific professional development for music teachers and summer enrichment activities for students. New this year, music teachers are also asking their members of Congress to support the Reimagining Inclusive Arts Education Act to better support students with disabilities in the music classroom.

The event concluded with a joyous and inspiring sing-along at the Robert Taft Memorial near the U.S. Capitol. SCMEA and NAfME extend a note of gratitude to the educators and supporters who work toward ensuring music education for all students.

The South Carolina Music Educators Association is a federated state association of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME). The South Carolina Music Educators Association does not discriminate on the basis of age, race, sex, color, handicap, religion or national origin in the dealings with students, the general public, education programs or activities.