Last week, local area business leader and musician, Justin Emord joined nearly 100 music industry leaders, notable artists and arts education activists to advocate for all school-aged children to have access to quality, comprehensive school music education programs. As part of the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Advocacy Fly-In, held May 22-24, the delegation met with Members of Congress and other policy stakeholders to reinforce the importance of music as part of a well-rounded education.
The issue of music education takes on a special importance this year as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), signed into law in 2015 by President Obama readies for state-level implementation in 2018, currently faces underfunding. The law specifies music as core part of a well-rounded education for all K-12 students.
On Tuesday, Emord prepared for his efforts on Capitol Hill by participating in advocacy training at the Newseum, during which he and fellow music industry leaders were apprised of current issues facing public school music programs and briefed on ESSA and the current political climate, from a variety of policy and arts leaders, including representatives from the United States Department of Education, Americans for the Arts (AFTA), the National School Board Association (NSBA) and among others. The group also enjoyed a special lunchtime session on current policy trends presented by PBS News Hour contributor, New York Times columnist and Turnaround Arts artist, David Brooks. Emord was also trained on developing state-level advocacy efforts for music and arts education to put into practice here in California.
Then on Wednesday, Emord met with Panetta, Sherman, Feinstein and other elected officials to advocate for school-level music programs across the nation and to discuss the multitude of benefits music education espouses such as increased brain function, focus and language development, as discussed in a new research study from Northwestern University. Former New York Yankees centerfielder and three-time World Series winner, music education champion Bernie Williams joined the day of advocacy, sharing his own experience in music education and a desire to create a more musical world.
In addition to the advocacy work, Emord was part of a special Congressional reception, held on Wednesday, May 24 in the Mansfield Room at the U.S. Capitol that brought together arts advocates and policy makers. Emord also attended a special CMA Songwriters Series event held at The Kennedy Center. The event featured notable acts including LoCash Cowboys and Drake White, as well as songwriters Jim Beavers and Heather Morgan. The performance underscored a united commitment from both artists and delegates to continue to champion music education opportunities for all children.