What is Advocacy?

What is Advocacy?

by Paul Niedbalski

We all know that, as music educators, advocacy is an important part of our jobs. If you're like me, though, you might struggle to understand what capital-A advocacy is. What does it look like? What am I supposed to actually DO?

Dr. Evan Lee of Grand Island Public Schools had some interesting thoughts on the matter that he shared with Jazzmone Sutton, host of NAfME's "The Music Education Advocate" podcast. Lee has had a long career in music education in Nebraska and is currently the Curriculum Coordinator for Fine Arts and Social Studies for Grand Island Public Schools, where he has found some recent success in securing funds to overhaul the district's instrument inventory, upgrade some facilities, and even hire a number of new teachers.

The episode started with Dr. Lee politely scoffing at a social media post that claims that he has a "profound vision for what excellence looks like." His vision, he explained, is truthfully quite simple: every kid that wants to participate in the fine arts should have the opportunity. I've expressed versions of that statement many times in my career, and I enjoyed listening to Dr. Lee explain the various ways in which he's advocated for it throughout his career.

I would recommend that you listen to the whole conversation, but I'll share with you the two main things that jumped out at me and provided answers to the questions I posed at the top of this blog.

When I take a group of band students to play the national anthem at the city's Memorial Day event or to play pep band tunes in the Dairy Queen parking lot, that's advocacy. When I ask the volleyball coach to narrate an arrangement of "Twas the Night Before Christmas" at a concert, that's advocacy. When I show my principal a congratulatory note our band had received from a retired teacher, that's advocacy.

One of my trombone professors from grad school frequently said "Never underestimate the profundity of the simple." When it comes to advocacy, the most profound things we can do are the small things: build positive relationships with our colleagues and communities, and amplify the successes of our students.

Share this post:

Comments on "What is Advocacy?"

Comments 0-10 of 0

Please login to comment