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California Superintendent Nominated for Department of Education Position

CMEA announces that President Biden has picked an Arts Education-supporting Californian to be Deputy Secretary of Education, Cindy Marten.

Marten currently serves as Superintendent of San Diego Unified School District, where she has been recognized for her support for arts and music in the district. CMEA awarded her its “Administrator of the Year” award in 2017 because of her consistent presence at music and arts events in the schools and community, as well as her continued supportive words that have translated into a vibrant visual and performing arts program in San Diego Unified. In support of CMEA, Marten spoke at a recent Stand Up 4 Music rally on the Capitol steps in Sacramento.

Along with Biden’s pick for Secretary of Education, Dr. Miguel Cardona, who currently serves as Connecticut’s education commissioner, these appointments represent stark departures from the previous administration and reflect President Biden’s desire to bring expertise back to the government.

Marten comes highly recommended by CMEA President-elect Anne Fennell and former CMEA President and current CMEA Advocacy Representative Russ Sperling, who both work with Marten in San Diego. They refer to her as “a firm believer in educational access and equity,” and both speak of her efforts to support arts and music education in SDUSD. She supported changes in policy to eliminate “student pull-outs” from music class for remediation and supported the purchase of instruments so students could use one free of cost. During her tenure as SDUSD Superintendent, Marten shepherded through a new strategic plan for the district that boosted arts education funding by several means, including Title I funds into “Learning Through the Arts,” an arts integration program. This investment, which amounted to $5 million over six years, is the first of its kind in the state of California.

Ms. Marten also exhibits a personal commitment to the arts in her community. Having lost her husband to a long illness, she realized that the arts were necessary for her to get out in the world. Sperling explained that Marten would sit down with him quarterly to create an arts calendar and that she has now attended events at virtually all arts venues and organizations in San Diego. Both Sperling and Fennell described Marten as “authentic” and “a true supporter of the Visual and Performing Arts,” and commended her ability to speak eloquently about the value music and the arts provide students.

A lifelong champion of equity, San Diego Unified labels itself as an “anti-racist” district and has implemented a Restorative Justice discipline policy and Standards-Based Grading to make ensure the success of all students.

Marten’s nomination is supported by California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, Secretary of State Shirley Weber, as well as educational leader Diane Ravitch.

CMEA believes that both Dr. Cardona and Ms. Marten will be staunch supporters of music and arts education, and we applaud their nominations to lead the U.S. Department of Education. CMEA looks forward to working with this administration to address the many challenges that lay ahead.

Join a Performing Arts Class

Are you concerned that 2020 has impacted your child’s social and emotional wellbeing? Participating in a Performing Arts class in school could be the answer you’re looking for!

Encouraging your child to participate in a Performing Arts class can really help the feeling of isolation during these days of distance/remote learning. These are classes like Band, Orchestra, Choir, Dance, and Theatre. They’ll make new friends, develop confidence and feel the satisfaction belonging to a caring/supportive community when we return to in-person instruction.

Consider joining a Performing Arts class today!

This message is presented to you in partnership with the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and the California Music Educators Association (CMEA).

CMEA Response to California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Update

On October 14, 2020, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) posted updated guidelines regarding singing and playing wind instruments. The CMEA response to this update is below and available to download as a PDF by clicking this link.

CDPH Update:

California Department of Public Health Schools Guidance updated on October 14, 2020 

“….. outdoor singing and band practice is permitted provided that precautions such as physical distancing and mask-wearing are implemented to the maximum extent possible.”

Does this guidance allow for singing or playing instruments?
“Yes, outdoor singing and band practice are permitted, provided that precautions such as physical distancing and mask wearing are implemented to the maximum extent possible. Playing of wind instruments (any instrument played by the mouth, such as a trumpet or clarinet) is strongly discouraged. School officials, staff, parents, and students should be aware of the increased likelihood for transmission from exhaled droplets during singing and band practice, and physical distancing beyond 6 feet is strongly recommended for any of these activities.

CMEA’s Response

Please note that playing and/or performing is one of four artistic processes in the California Music Standards, in alignment with California State Education Code, Section 51210 and 51220.  For outdoor only, CMEA recommends: see references below for guidance on each point:

  • to only sing or play wind instruments outside with the correct PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) and physically distanced six feet or more.
  • wearing correct fitting masks for singers, all instrumentalists of all ages, instructors, and instrument covers are required. 
  • correct face masks and bell covers with MERV 13 for singing and playing wind instruments. 
  • teachers use a voice projection system to avoid voice and aerosol projection. Limit talking. 
  • to identify an outside location where spit valves can be emptied safely with physical distancing
  • to maintain hygiene.

References

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  2. NAfME Guidance for Music Education
  3. NFHS Aerosol Study – Round Two 
  4. NFHS Preliminary Recommendations
  5. NFHS Aerosol Study FAQs

California Department of Education Arts Education Guidance 2020-21

Share this document(s) with your school/district administration and communities about guidance and resources to support LEAs when determining how to safely provide music education in alignment with California State Education Code, Section 51210 and 51220.

High Quality Arts Education During a COVID-19 Impacted School year

Performing Arts Aerosol Study – Round two

CAL OSHA Covid-19 Industry Guidance: Schools and School-Based Programs

As we continue through these unprecedented times, we know that many of you are experiencing competing narratives about varying distance expectations for music learning as your district shapes its approach to reopening school. We understand that districts throughout the state have had little to no conversations, have resolved to cancel ensemble classes, or even worse, eliminate music instruction all together.  Additionally, a new guidance document sent out on July 17, 2020, COVID-19 Industry Guidance: Schools and School-Based Programs has caused us all serious concern on the advice provided relating to the teaching of music in our school settings.

On Monday, July 27 CMEA sent letters to the following entities:

  • Ms. Sum, Director of Cal OSHA
  • Ms. Hagen, Director of CA Department of Industrial Relations
  • Dr. Angell, Director of CA Dept of Public Health

CMEA also sent a letter to SSPI Thurmond seeking his assistance in correcting the guidance. CMEA asked the entities that the guidance be updated to reflect the preliminary results from the International Coalition Performing Arts Aerosol Study.

CMEA requests that CDPH and CAL OSHA publish, as soon as possible, an update to the July 17, 2020  “Covid-19 Industry Guidance: Schools and School-Based Programs” with the requested revisions to page 12 to halt the elimination of music education courses.

Our letter provided the following suggested revisions:

CMEA’s Recommended Revisions

We recommend changing the wording of bullets seven and eight, page 12, to match what was published in the preliminary recommendations stated by the International Coalition Performing Arts Aerosol Study.

The rehearsal space recommendations from International Coalition Performing Arts Aerosol Study are:
Outdoor rehearsals are permitted using individual mitigation techniques described in the preliminary guidance document.

  • Outdoor gazebo style tents with open sides and a high-pitched ceiling with mitigations.
  • Indoors with elevated outdoor air exchange rate from HVAC.
  • Indoors with typical outdoor air exchange rate from HVAC plus recirculation air through MERV 13 filters or addition of appropriately sized HEPA air purifiers.
  • Indoors with outdoor air exchange rate from open windows supplemented with appropriately sized HEPA air purifiers when airflow is reduced under certain outdoor wind conditions.

Some of the solutions districts are exploring for re-opening music education may be growing out of decision makers’ limited perception of music learning. They may only be considering the physical, face-to-face rehearsals and performances aspects of music teaching. However, we know there is much more to music education beyond rehearsing for performances as we support students in becoming lifelong music makers. In the unpredictability of the months ahead, students who have been involved in music classes will once again experience a sense of loss by having their ensemble classes taken away from them. Simply eliminating music from their lives communicates to students and communities music education is no longer important during this period of distance learning. More importantly, we must be mindful of our students in rural areas, inner city schools, and communities of poverty that their music education is not disproportionately elminited compared with students attending schools in more affluent areas of our state.

We can create solutions so that all aspects of instrumental and vocal music education can be adapted and safely taught in a virtual or hybrid environment. This spring many of you demonstrated such abilities as you quickly adapted to addressing all aspects of music learning to ensure your students were not experiencing major learning loss. The solutions are many, but cancelling or removing music education is not the solution. Advocacy is needed at the local level to help individual districts in shaping their reopening plans. To access the letters to use for your own advocacy work at the local click here.  CMEA, like you, will be actively waiting to hear from these state agencies regarding our request.  It will continue to be of highest importance in our advocacy efforts to support continuity of learning in music education for all students in California.

Thank you for continual advocacy efforts in your local schools and districts. It will take all of us to keep a watchful eye on leaders at all levels so that the California Education Code and the UC/CSU A-G requirements are implemented. Equity for all is, and will remain, an integral component of a well-rounded music education that we consider a social justice issue for all students in the state of California.

Sincerely,
Armalyn De La O
President

Stand Up 4 Music Coalition Partners

The CMEA Advocacy Team continues to meet weekly and take an active role in following and responding to the pandemic and its effect on music education. We have crafted and sent a letter to Governor Newsom, signed by CMEA President Armalyn De La O, asking him to consider the effects of potential budget cuts to K-12 education and arts education that you can find attached to this post. Almost identical letters were also sent to Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins.

For information on changes to the LCAPA process, please see the message below from our lobbyist, Martha Zaragoza-Diaz, and two attachments:  

  • The Governor’s Executive Order regarding LCAP and transparency 
  • Answers to frequently asked questions in regards to budgets and local control from the CDE

There are certainly important changes to note about these processes this year and it is important that the music education community stays updated and engaged.  Remember that “local control” means that there must be advocates in every district for music education.

Regarding the new state arts education framework, it has passed the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) and is now with the State Board of Education (SBE). An item will be heard at the May 7 SBE meeting that will set the approval date of the framework in July.  We will keep you informed as the July meeting approaches.

Please let me or Martha know if you have any questions.  Stay safe and be well.

Sincerely,
Russ Sperling
CMEA Advocacy Representative

Letter to Governor Newsom
Executive Order N-56-20
COVID-19 and LCAP FAQs