September 13, 2008
IMEA President’s report to the membership
John A. Aboud, President
“Being a good music teacher is not enough!” Because we believe in the value of a music education for all children, we all need to do more than just be the best teachers of music we can. If that is our only focus, events will transpire that diminish our opportunities to teach and our students’ opportunities to learn about music. There are movements in process that will significantly change the opportunities for a music education for Iowa’s children and actions will need to be taken at all levels if we are to achieve IMEA’s core purpose to “Advance music education in Iowa.”
Be sure to monitor the curriculum development in your school and district. The best place to do this is on your building and/or district curriculum committee. I believe that the new Iowa Core Curriculum has the potential to cause significant changes in our state’s music education opportunities in schools. Where the arts are listed as core academic subjects in the federal NCLB law, the Iowa Core Curiculum does not mention them. While aspects of school music education can certainly fits in the curriculum section covering 21st Century Skills, do not fail to note that many skills taught in music classes support goals in literacy and social studies. Most elective classes/programs in our schools will be looking at the 21st Century Skills heading for an existence justification in the curriculum and school day. Be sure that the value of the comprehensive skills students learn in music classes is championed in your district. You are the best person to do this for if you are not the advocate for the music education of your students, who will do this for them?
The IMEA website has the June 3, 2008 letter concerning the Iowa Core Curriculum from Governor Culver and Judy Jeffrey to the school administrators/leaders in Iowa. Be sure you are aware of what this document contains as you prepare to be an advocate for the music and arts education of your students. Joanne Tubbs will be representing IMEA at the state school board association conference for a panel discussion on arts education and 21st century skills. Her work at that level is essential but no more essential that the work all music teachers do locally. Be sure to read her governmental affairs report concerning this issue. She will be keeping abreast of the topic at the state level for IMEA.
Schools districts often copy each other’s actions, for good and sometimes for bad. If one school’s solution to a scheduling or budget problem is to reduce staff or lessen available time in music instruction, it is almost a certainly that another district will try the same change. Be aware of your neighbors’ situations. Few administrators and school boards are aware of the life skills taught in music classes. Students learn to work together as much if not more in a general music class using Orff instruments as on the football team. The sophistication of organizing choirs or bands where a large mix of students perform simultaneously and depend on each other for success have no equals in our public school systems. I can not think of a larger group of students in our schools “demonstrate productivity and accountability by meeting high expectations”. The issue is not that music is being cut or eliminated, rather that decisions that affect other aspects of the curriculum will have the net effect of limiting the available time that music and other elective courses have in the day. As students find themselves making additional scheduling choices, these elective classes may see the negative effects.
The Iowa 2008 -09 Student Achievement and Teacher Quality program has additional funds provided for schools to support professional development related to the implementation of the Iowa Core Curriculum. School districts are required to adopt an implementation plan for the Iowa Core Curriculum for grades 9-12 by July 1, 2010, and for grades K-8 by July 1, 2012. A few districts will be starting this alignment process this fall. Most will be waiting for AEA training to start. Literacy, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies and 21st Century Skills are the core areas of the Iowa Core Curriculum. Make sure that your music department is represented on your district leadership committees that receive this training if possible. As Judy Jeffrey once pointed out to me that “school districts do what you inspect, not what you expect”, the lack of a mention of the arts in this new model core curriculum should be a concern to all of us. As busy as you may be, you need to make time to be involved in this curriculum process now. Next year can be too late.
The state music organizations are sharing the responsibility to provide mentors to Iowa’s new music teachers. Martha Kroese is serving as mentor chair of IMEA. She is working with the other five district chairs to identify new general music teachers and provide them with mentors. If you know of a new music teacher who has not been provided with a mentor, please contact her. As some general music teachers are also teaching band and choir, we want to make sure that they do not fall through the cracks as our organizations thought that a different one was covering that teacher.
We discovered last year doing our licensure survey that 78.74% of the 876 educators that participated in the survey feel that music teaching licenses in Iowa should have endorsements that better reflect the areas that music teachers could and should teach. The largest sub group (30.53%) felt that there the music license should have the three separate endorsements K-12 General/Vocal, K-12 General/Band and K-12 General/Orchestra. This information was presented to the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners at their August 1, 2008 meeting.
IMEA Communications continue to improve. I encourage you to check the IMEA website www.iamea.org regularly. Chad Criswell is doing a wonderful job of making this site a resource to all IMEA members. He is open to all comments to assist in the improving of the site. Scott Rieker is always looking for new articles and thoughts for the IMEA magazine
The IMEA Conference has a comprehensive program and will be of value to all of Iowa’s Music Educators. We thank David Law for his work in assembling the conference events. The IMEA website will have all program information listed. Be sure to apply for leave so that you can attend.
IMEA continues to look for new music teachers willing to serve music education in Iowa in a service or leadership capaciy. The personal benefits of this type of service are considerable when you see how your actions can benefit Iowa’s children on a larger scale. IMEA has a board of directors that I feel honored to work with and I would appreciate being contacted by members who would like the opportunity to serve IMEA and the children and music educators of Iowa.