Nassau Music Educators

Government Relations and Advocacy Hub

The 2022 Asks...

  1. Curriculum Associate

    1. Over fourteen years ago there was an Arts Curriculum department at the New York State Education Department with a staff of six associates responsible for Music, Art, Dance and Theater. These positions were eliminated during budget crunches, leaving one, lone Curriculum Associate responsible for dealing with and answering all questions concerning the Arts, which now also includes the area of Media Arts. For years we have asked to have these positions reinstated as one of our primary asks. The State Education Department indicates that while the positions have been in the approved budget for several years, the Governor’s Office of the Budget has refused to release the funds to allow hiring to take place. Throughout the pandemic we were constantly reminded how important it was to have clear communication and clear information, and unfortunately did not have that coming from state ed. relating to music. We urge you to use whatever influence you have to insist on hiring a curriculum associate for music.

  2. Covid Success Story

    1. NMEA Performance Readiness workshops - 560 students signed up for small group, interactive musical coachings with experts from around the world.

  3. Bills! In Nassau County - Sponsored by Ra, Griffin, Solages, Mikulin, Montesano, McDonough, Miller, Lavine, Sillitti, Durso. Senators on board: Brooks, Gaughran, Thomas

    1. Almost every legislator in Nassau County has signed on to sponsor the bill. Let's ask what we have to do to move it forward.

    2. Asking for an update to NYS Education law which hasn't changed the statutory subjects since they were written back in 1951/1958. Currently the mandated subjects are arithmetic, reading, spelling, writing, English, geography, History, civics, hygiene, history of NYS, science, and phys ed. We are asking for a reflection of what we do to be codified into law. Senators should be asked to sign on to: S-4525 Assembly can be asked to sign on to A1788.

August 2021 Update

  1. NYSSMA Establishes Standing Committee for advocacy

    1. NYSSMA President Dr. Brown called for a continuation of the ad-hoc advocacy group created as a response to the great need for direction music educators had at the beginning of the pandemic. This standing group has representation in each zone, and is led by Lori Orestano-James (Chair) and Mike Mastrangelo (Vice-Chair). The Zone 13 (Nassau County) representative on the committee is Joe Owens, NMEA GRC chair.

  2. The bills that we have been talking about for the past two years are gaining some much needed traction among some very important stakeholders at NYSED and the Board of Regents. The bills will remain active through the 2022 session, so the support we earned from legislators last March will remain in tact. We should continue to encourage our legislators who have not signed on yet.

  3. Something that has been a talking point of ours for years is the Curriculum Associate Position for Music in the NYSED Office. The importance of this position is realized in its absence, particularly now. One needs only to look at the way music has been handled by state ed during the pandemic to see that the entire state would benefit from someone in the office with content and pedagogical knowledge of what we do. Here is a "Swiss-Cheese" letter that we can use to send to our state legislators to show that they need to fill the position, which has funding already allocated.

Covid Re-opening Guidance:

As you probably know by now, NYS has claimed that since the state of emergency has expired, local districts would regain full control over health and safety measures. NYSED released a guidance document which only talked about extra-curricular activities. This provides an opportunity for music educators to directly advocate for curricular music to exist using the mitigations proved by science.

  • NAFME has released their suggestions in their "Return to Music: Phase III" Documentation, with which you should become very familiar. It is based upon the Aerosol Study Findings.

  • A very valuable piece of information, which has received a less press, but is still important, is the results of a survey conducted in May, 2021 which reports on the observed efficacy of mitigation measures. Read the whole thing, but the most dramatic takeaway, is that in cases where some or all of the recommended mitigation strategies were used, the risk of transmission was 1 in 1.9 Million. In cases where no mitigation was used, the risk of transmission was still low, but far greater, at about 1 in 235,000. For your data hungry boards of education or central office, this is a great piece of evidence that music is far safer than the March 2020 headlines might suggest. You can find the report here.

  • Governor Hochul has come out and released her plans to create a mask mandate, and an impending Vaccine Mandate through the Department of Health. New York City has come out with a vaccination mandate, which does not allow for

Joseph R. Sugar Day, 2021

Our 2021 Virtual Joseph R. Sugar Day in Albany was a great success! As a result of our efforts, we now have each Nassau County Member of the education committees in both Assembly and Senate as sponsors of the music as a common branch subject bill.


2021 Ask: Distancing - New York State Revised its distancing guidelines for Music in our schools. Music and other aerosol activities can now be spaced at 6' apart. You can find the guidance here.

2021 Ask: Budget - The consolidation of expense-based aid categories was not a part of the '21-'22 Budget. This is great news!

2021 Ask: Legislative - No movement yet on the bills!



The Following Appeared in the April Edition of the NMEA Noteworthy

Joseph R. Sugar Day Recap:

What a tremendous success! We had a total of 60 members involved in our biggest advocacy day of the year. We know our efforts were successful based on the tenor of each of the conversations we had with our lawmakers, but also have some concrete data to support how we felt. The biggest actionable item for our legislators was asking them to become sponsors of A1788 and S4525. As of this writing 9 of the 11 Assembly Members in Nassau County are now sponsors of the Assembly Bill, and 2 of our 5 senators have signed on. More importantly, each Nassau member of their respective education committees are sponsors.

Moving Forward:

We were successful in hearing our legislators voice their support for moving 12’ to 6’ with proper PPE, and changes continue to unclear. We are proud to report that our advocacy efforts paid off in having the state reduced their distancing requirements for music activities in schools. Now the state, the CDC, and the County are all in line and in agreement with six-foot distancing in music. If any of this results in a new ability for you to have public performances, virtual or in person, we urge you to reach out to your legislators and share your performances with them. Be sure to thank them and that they know that it wouldn’t have been possible without the state responding to our calls.

Lastly, I’d like to draw your attention to our NMEA Government Relations Page, which can be found on It will continue to be updated with items that are appropriate for public consumption. The most recent addition is a list of Assembly Members and Senators by School District. It’s important to realize that there is a lot of overlap, and that legislative district maps are drawn entirely different from school district maps. See the resources page for more.

Recent Changes:

New York State Governor releases new distancing guidance for music activities.

See Page 8 for details

The Following Letter Was Sent to NYS Commissioner of Health on behalf of Nassau NYSCAME and NMEA before the distancing guidance was modified.


Reach out to your legislators and express your satisfaction regarding our first two asks, and feel free to request the advancement of

The 2020-2021 Assembly Bill A 1788 or The 2020-2021 Senate Bill S-04525

Please reach out to Joe Owens should you have any questions: