Yesterday, we notified you that we were nearing a conclusion related to the actions and comments made by Michael Butera. After a thorough review process, the National Executive Board of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) and Michael Butera have agreed that he will not be returning to the association. We wish him well and thank him for his service to our purpose and mission.

Additionally, we are announcing that Michael Blakeslee will serve as the new Executive Director and Chief Executive Office for NAfME, effective immediately. Mr. Blakeslee’s experience and knowledge of our organization, fostered over nearly 30 years of dedicated service to NAfME and the music education profession, best position us to advocate for and provide opportunities to the greatest number of students and teachers.

Over the course of the last few days, it has become increasingly clear that there is a need for real, substantive conversation about providing access and opportunity to the millions of students that deserve a chance but are not afforded one. We believe that our organization can play an important role in convening and facilitating a dialogue to prompt action around ways to increase diversity, inclusion, and equity in music and the arts.

While not in the manner we would have preferred, we believe this incident granted an opportunity to address an issue facing too many students and educators. Moving forward, we will be reaching out to a number of organizations, members, and partners to continue the much-needed dialogue regarding diversity, inclusion, and equity in the music and arts. We are committed to upholding our mission, achieving real solutions, and bringing about substantive change that impacts the future of our work and provides access to music for all Americans.



CMEA Board Candidates and Constitution and Bylaws Changes

As directed by our CMEA Constitution & Bylaws, as in the past year as CMEA President-elect I have:

  • Convened a Nominating Committee to assemble a slate of candidates to run for CMEA elected office
  • Convened a committee to review and update our CMEA Constitution & Bylaws

In the following pages, you will see the candidates for office approved by the Nominating Committee and the proposed changes to the CMEA Constitution and Bylaws as recommended by the revision committee.

Process for Selecting the Slate of Candidates

As directed by the CMEA Constitution & Bylaws, the Nominating Committee is chaired by the immediate past president and the members are our CMEA section presidents.  As chair, I convened this committee at our January 2015 board meeting to begin discussing potential candidates for the positions of president-elect, vice president and secretary.  Over 20 names were suggested.  In the ensuing three months, the committee had access to a confidential document where basic biographical information was collected and shared to help inform decision-making.  The names were then listed on a private site and committee members were asked rank the names in their order of preference.  Once the names were ranked, I began to call those with the highest cumulative rankings to ask if they were interested in becoming a candidate.  Those CMEA members who said yes were submitted back to the Nominating Committee for their approval at the August board meeting, and this slate was then endorsed by the CMEA Executive Board.  You will find these candidates on the following pages, two for each statewide elected office.  I am very proud of how this process played out, and I believe the nominating committee has gathered an extremely strong slate of candidates.

As a CMEA member, we ask that you read the candidate biographies and statements and carefully consider who you believe is best suited to lead our organization over the next two years, and in the case of president-elect, six years.  CMEA has positioned itself to become a strong voice in our state for your profession, music education.  As we march down the road towards increased advocacy and visibility, the outcome of the CMEA election becomes ever more important.  Your serious participation in this process is highly encouraged.

Constitution & Bylaws Revision

The full CMEA board served as the revision committee and unanimously approved the changes in the proposed CMEA Constitution & Bylaws that you will find after the candidate bios in this magazine.  The pink words would be added, while crossed-out words would be removed from our current document.  Here is a summary of the proposed changes:

  • The word “advocate” was added to highlight this critical part of our mission under purposes and objectives
  • The position of “CMEA Administrative Coordinator” was recently changed by the CMEA board to “CMEA Executive Administrator.”  This change is reflected throughout the proposed Constitution & Bylaws.
  • The position of CMEA Lobbyist has been added to the list of ex-officio, non-voting board members, alongside the Magazine Editor and the Executive Administrator.  Of these ex-officio members, only the Executive Administrator regularly attends board meetings.
  • The timeline for the nominating process has been updated to describe the way the process has actually been functioning, given the amount of lead time is necessary to secure high-quality candidates.
  • Given the importance of the CMEA Strategic Plan in directing the work of our association, verbiage was added to the president’s job description that includes strategic planning and implementation within the president’s scope of work.
  • There are few slight changes which make this revision gender-neutral.

This revised Constitution & Bylaws cannot take effect without the ratification of the general membership, and so this issue will appear on your ballot.  The CMEA Board of Directors recommends approval of these revisions.


Once again, this year’s election will be held primarily online through a secure election web platform.  Members will receive an email from CMEA Executive Administrator Trish Adams two weeks before CASMEC by which members will be able to access their own online ballot.  As directed by the CMEA Constitution & Bylaws, any member “may request a ballot be mailed to him/her two months prior to the California All-State Music Education Conference of an election year by sending a stamped and self-addressed envelope to the CMEA State Office.”  For your convenience, a computer will be available in the CASMEC exhibit hall for CMEA members in which they can use to vote.  The election will close at noon on Saturday, February 13 (during CASMEC).  The results will be released via a mass email to all members as soon as all candidates are first notified of the voting.

Russ Sperling

Dear Friends,
The past several days have been a difficult time for your leadership in CMEA and those who have been tuned into the recent events at our national level.  
In consultation with the CMEA Executive Board, and under directives from NAfME, we have remained silent for several days to allow the statements officially put out by NAfME to provide some answers.  I realize that many of you want more, and I stand with you in that desire for information.  
One person does not make or break any organization.  None of us is that powerful or indispensable.  It is the organization itself, with it's Vision, Mission Statement, values, policies, and procedures that is the ongoing entity.  We exist within an organization as the stewards of those values for only a designated period of time.  And then others follow to fill our places.  In this current issue, CMEA and NAfME will survive and become stronger as we continue to address the issues of Inclusion and Diversity.  
We live in a democracy where everyone is innocent until proven guilty by an official source.  Public opinion should never be the ultimate judge, and we need to trust our leadership to do a thorough job in investigating and reporting back to us. 
CMEA is a tremendous organization, with a rich history and a bright future.  Out of this adversity will come dialogue and new directions. Diversity and greater inclusion for all students has been in the discussions among your state leaders for quite some time, and when you see the announcement of our new CMEA State Council, later this month, you will notice several new positions that relate directly to our need to reach out and be a much more important entity in the lives of our colleagues and the students they teach.  
A greater inclusion of all has been at the core of my wish for CMEA and has been my driving force in pursuing leadership within our organization for the past fourteen years.
Thank you for your understanding, your patience, and your professionalism in the recent days.  I look forward to our discussions and future directions within the CMEA family.

Scott Hedgecock
CMEA President
A Message From The NAfME National Executive Board:
Last week, the National Executive Board (NEB) and leadership team were made aware that Michael Butera, CEO of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), made disparaging remarks during a meeting convened by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). His remarks and behavior as reported are in direct contrast with the values, commitment, and mission of our organization. We began a review of this incident immediately upon notification, and the investigation is concluded. Michael has been placed on administrative leave pending final board discussion.

As part of this process, we reached out to participants in last week’s meeting, including Keryl McCord of Alternate ROOTS, to fully understand what happened and assess the situation. During those conversations, our national leadership affirmed NAfME’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity in music and the arts, as well as our desire to foster a meaningful dialogue that leads to an increase of diversity in our field.

As leaders of this organization, we want you to know that we take this matter very seriously. Our promise to you is that the review is timely, comprehensive, professional, and one of integrity and high ethical standards.

We will continue this important dialogue regarding diversity, inclusion, and equity in music and the arts. The National Executive Board has been in intensive meetings, and will follow up tomorrow.

WHEN: Thursday and Friday, March 17-18
Optional El Sistema Pre-Workshop on Wednesday, March 16

WHERE: San Diego

WHAT: Two-day conference with Thursday night celebration

Registration, Program and Accommodation information will be distributed in coming weeks

This two-day event will bring national focus to two school districts in San Diego County, where arts education has emerged as a priority to improve student success. San Diego Unified’s Title I arts integration initiative "Learning Through the Arts" is reaching students in twenty-two elementary schools with a coordinated arts integration system. Chula Vista Elementary School District has invested significant resources to hire over 70 credentialed visual and performing arts teachers since June, providing all students instruction in music, theater, dance, visual arts or media arts.

Why is this happening in San Diego? What are the implications for learning and success for all students? What can we learn from their example? The Arts Education Learning Exchange will enable participants to witness school site learning, hear from key leaders and stakeholders within the school districts and local arts organizations who are guiding these efforts, and learn strategies and resources districts can use to embed arts education in student learning.

A ‘celebration’ of student learning and community support WITH CELEBRITIES, ELECTED OFFICIALS, AND STUDENT PERFORMANCES FROM DISTRICTS AROUND THE COUNTY, will be held the evening of March 17 to recognize the role San Diego has taken in leading a national conversation about the critical importance of arts education in student learning. This celebration is provided at no cost by the California Alliance for Arts Education.

In addition to the two-day Learning Exchange, Chula Vista Elementary School District and San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory will offer a half-day workshop that immerses participants in the El Sistema principles and practices used to build community momentum for restoration of arts education across the district. Separate registration will be required.