Massachusetts Bill H4384 creates potential negative health effects and inhibits access to music education for students across the state.
RESTON, VA (PRWEB) January 15, 2015
Access to quality education is a hot-button issue, especially entering a new era with the 114th Congress, which has jumped right into education policy from the get-go. As expected, the federal role in education will diminish if the current U.S. congressional leadership is successful. Hence, the states' role is more critical than ever -- not always for the good. Case in point: Massachusetts and its latest salvo against access to music education, a subject illustrated by recent studies to give at-risk students an educational advantage.
The National Association for Music Education stands with the Massachusetts Music Educators Association (MMEA) in opposing the final passage of H4384, which was signed into law by outgoing Governor Deval Patrick on January 8, 2015. MMEA has repeatedly articulated grave concerns with this bill, in that it creates potential negative health effects and inhibits access to music education for students across Massachusetts.
H4384 now requires all public or charter schools in the Commonwealth to inform a parent or guardian that, if requested, the school must sterilize school woodwind and brass instruments prior to being issued to students. Parents or guardians making this request would be responsible for the entire cost of the procedure.
Public school music programs generally loan many instruments to students, particularly students who financially are unable to rent or buy instruments of their own, and would otherwise be unable to participate in an instrumental program. (Students must purchase their own personal mouthpieces, which are not shared.) School-owned instruments are cleaned and sanitized by district instrumental teachers at the end of each academic year, and sent out for any necessary repairs, before being reissued.
Passage of H4384 suggests that a potential health risk exists to students that current sanitization procedures do not address. However, no scientific evidence has been found to show that sharing instruments spreads communicable diseases. Further, the potential cost burden to parents or guardians creates a potential barrier to entry for many students.
Most importantly, the recommended method of sterilization employs ethylene oxide, a gas that is classified by the EPA as a potential carcinogen. The possibility of harm to students and staff due to exposure to residual gases from this process, or from the use of instruments sterilized in this manner over an extended period of time, poses grave concern.
Current measures to provide sanitized instruments to music students are safe and effective. This new law stands only to benefit private industry and poses no benefit to Massachusetts students or educators. Massachusetts educators, families, and students can contact MMEA with questions or concerns, and visit http://www.massmea.org for further updates.
National Association for Music Education, among the world’s largest arts education organizations, is the only association that addresses all aspects of music education. NAfME advocates at the local, state, and national levels; provides resources for teachers, parents, and administrators; hosts professional development events; and offers a variety of opportunities for students and teachers. The Association orchestrates success for millions of students nationwide and has supported music educators at all teaching levels for more than a century. With more than 130,000 members, the organization is the voice of music education in the United States.
Follow NAfME on Twitter (twitter.com/nafme) and on Facebook (facebook.com/nafme).
For additional information, contact Catherina Hurlburt at catherinah(at)nafme(dot)org or 703-860-4000, ext. 242.