Concrete Action Items

CDSJ Action Items for NafME

April 20, 2018

Priority List for NAfME from the Cultural Diversity and Social Justice (CDSJ) Area for Strategic Planning and Action (ASPA) of the Society for Music Teacher Education (SMTE)

– Co-Chairs: Karen Salvador, Amanda Soto, and Juliet Hess


1. Create a full-time position on the national staff (at the executive level) whose primary focus is on antiracism in the institution. Regarding salary: NAfME says that diversity is a priority. Prioritizing an appropriate salary for this full-time position needs to follow. It is of grave concern to this ASPA that we are “viewing everything through the lens of diversity” without having been embedded in literature specific to anti-racism education in particular. Please have everyone on NEB and staff read Dafina Lazarus-Stewart, PhD ( Look at NAfME through the frames she proposes. In addition, What action is required?

2. Create a Council on Equity and Justice that is equivalent to the council on general music, council on band, etc., that cuts across those silos.

3. Create award(s) that highlight CDSJ practices by practicing teachers and in teacher education.

4. Sponsor grant funding for research and activities related to equity and justice. Setting a research agenda and supporting it would speak volumes to the people who are listening about the values of the organization. Although there was one set of grants two years ago, this practice of dedicated research funding needs to be more than a one-off and not so obviously tied to a situation in which NAfME was publicly revealed as not inclusive.

Professional Development

1. Hire Nicole Robinson, Ph.D. to do a 3-day training with NAfME NEB and all staff [see].

2. If Dr. Robinson is not available (and perhaps even if she is), have someone in from the “Teaching Tolerance” project of the Southern Poverty Law center to help with messaging (and understanding of critical concepts). Race Forward & Center for Social Inclusion is also another organization that offers training that addresses structural racism and emphasizes how to change institutional racial inequities. (

3. Public book clubs: Is everyone really equal? by Sensoy & DiAngelo. Power, Privilege and Difference by Allan G. Johnson.

4. Create a list of available external grant funding specific to cultural diversity and social justice. In the session, someone reeled off a list of grants they felt we should be applying for. Share that expertise with us in ways we can access.

5. Tell us what research you think is lacking to justify the need for these structural changes–it is likely that [robust] literature exists, and we can help you find it.

6. The National Council of Teachers of English is a similar professional organization to NAfME. They have excellent materials and structures around social justice topics including antiracism. We encourage examination (and even partnership) with this organization as a way to improve NAfME’s work in this area. Here are several links to get you started:


1. Create a sliding-scale membership fee immediately.

2. Create and curate #IWishNAfMEKnew

3. Watch the #ThisIsMusicEd

4. This work is political, but it is not partisan. Equity and justice are shared US values. In remaining silent, NAfME appears to be supporting the status quo. As Ta Nehisi Coates asked: “Are we living up to our mythology?”

5. In order to diversify membership, NAfME needs to clearly state inclusive positions and talk about social justice. We are aware of the position statements, but NAfME is too often silent. That silence equates to acquiescence to the status quo.

Conference Planning

1. Create a quota for sessions on equity and diversity for all NAfME conferences. Critical equity sessions are being proposed and they are not being accepted.

2. Conference expense: first year free? Do they need to be at resorts?

3. Since right now the NAfME national conference is struggling, do we re-envision it as totally different from what the states are doing? Do we need a national conference? How would we use our time and resources differently without it? I do not perceive it as being at all important to most of our members.

4. Have a pre-conference devoted to equity and diversity issues or devoted sessions during a conference that are not cross listed with other sessions.

Representations (Visual, Verbal, and Physical)

1. Prioritize different (and accurate) representations in NAfME visual materials (stock photos). If we want music education to look different, representing it differently visually will allow students and teachers of color to see themselves in NAfME materials–but in real ways, not in obviously posed photos of a teacher with eight students who “are the rainbow.”

2. Fix Teaching Music or stop sending it out–it is not just the images that need to be fixed, but also the content. Everything that NAfME puts in the world or curates IS NAFME in the eyes of members. Why is it that we can afford to send every member this magazine and not our very high-quality practitioner-focused journal (MEJ?) If it is because of all the “advertorials” that is a huge problem with expertise and credibility.

3. Position statement to support curriculum change based on research already present about the importance of music programs beyond the band/orchestra/choir paradigm.

4. NAfME needs to be more humble in messaging. “We are really trying. We might make some mistakes. This is important enough that we have to do it.” Even in the conversation during the ASPA meeting, the responses were a bit like: We did that 4 years ago. Or: We said that at national assembly in 2017. Our ASPA (and NAfME’s membership) has new people all the time (including in the March meeting). We are busy people, and our service to the ASPA is in the cracks of the rest of our responsibilities. If we don’t know something, or can’t find information, don’t belittle us by telling us we should know it. If people come needing information, telling them they should have heard it is unhelpful. If people ask us to take action, it is meaningless to say “we did that once.” All of this has to be consistent, visible, clear, easily accessible.

5. Website is difficult to use, difficult to find what you need. A “start here” button with info on navigating (perhaps a short video) might be good. Considering it more like a learning management system was an idea that seemed to have legs. Lance Nielson was in this conversation and seemed to have his wheels spinning. He may be a good person to work on this (if he is interested).

Questions that Need Public Answers

1) If we are viewing everything “through a lens of diversity and inclusion,” how will NAfME demonstrate that we are prioritizing equity through financially investing in:

a) Hiring someone with expertise on equity and the executive level;

b) Providing professional development to all NAfME executive members;

c) Establishing equity mandates within mentoring programs for students and teachers;

d) Changing the materials that reflect NAfME (Teaching Music, MEJ, materials on

teacher and program evaluation, etc.)

e) Etc. (see above action item list).

2) How does NAfME plan to address their communication strategy, which has included, as of late, releasing membership cards that said “Music can bring a nation to its feet” while NFL players were taking a knee in protest of racialized police violence and tweeting an ableist joke about Beethoven’s deafness?

3) How is NAfME working to create shared understandings rooted in the history of race and racism in the U.S. about why our focus on equity and inclusion is necessary? How are we creating shared dialogue about gender bias and its effects in music education, performance, and leadership? How can NAfME support these dialogues taking place across areas of practice (e.g., band, orchestra and choir)?