I find that once I start learning about something it’s suddenly everywhere. As soon as I learn a new word I hear it a dozen times in the next few days in conversations, on the radio, in movies, etc. Lately, I’ve had a growing interest in how legislation affects schools. As an up-and-coming music teacher, my future is very interconnected with how things play out at the Capitol in terms of legislature regarding arts education. I suddenly care more about the political process than I ever have before. It’s a complicated, fascinating—I might even say beautiful—process.
In my Foundations of Education class here at BYU, we had a guest speaker come talk with us about school governance. We looked at the hierarchy of power and decision making. Teachers were at the bottom. I started to wonder if that’s really where I want to be—if I have no political clout I will not be able to ensure teaching jobs for other arts educators like myself. On the other hand, if I’m wrapped up in the political machine trying to change the world, I won’t get to be in the classroom with the kids which is where I really want to be. See the dilemma? The lecture made me ponder anew the question of where I would be happiest and have the greatest positive influence. During our break in the class I talked with my professor for a few minutes and he suggested lobbying. You probably know what lobbying is, but I didn’t. Lobbying is when you—as a teacher, citizen, or anyone who wants to see things improve—find a senator or member of your state’s house of representatives to team up with. The music teacher who wants to stay in the classroom yet still wants political influence; the politician (an avid music lover, of course) who wants a worthy cause to champion and maintain public favor—it’s a win-win situation.
Two days after the discussion there was a music education rally at the Capitol in Salt Lake City. Enthused curiosity won out and I went. The acoustics in that building are incredible! I mean, of course they are—the whole thing is made of marble and there’s a huge dome for a ceiling. The speakers had excellent points (details next time) and the groups that performed were top notch. Hearing a high school band play the national anthem inside the Capitol was one of the more moving patriotic moments of my life. The jazz band’s jam under the chandelier was the perfect, iconic American juxtaposition of stately and swing. And, I saw a handful of people walking around with name tags that read: “Lobbyist.” Like I said, as soon as I learn something, it’s everywhere!
Tune in next time for a more detailed chat about the legislation surrounding arts education here in Utah.