I was thrilled to have a chance to speak with Christopher Woodside of the National Association for Music Education, otherwise known as NAfME. In a nutshell, he makes sure that everyone inside the Beltway knows how powerful music education is.
I was blown away by his knowledge of the inner workings of government, and more importantly, by his passion. He asked that I share his email address with you so you can reach out to him personally to talk about the issues facing your music program. You can reach him at chrisw (at) nafme (dot) org.
Over the course of our conversation, we touch on:
- Whether music education is a partisan issue
- The effect of campaign finance laws on music education
- Tips for simple, proactive advocacy, and why you should personalize your plan of attack
- Music education advocacy fatigue
- Why decision makers need to hear from YOU
- Why many music educators hesitate to become politically active, and why they need to get over that
- Why you need to pick up John Benham’s book Music Advocacy to learn how to build your very own music coalition (affiliate link)
- Why parents may be the most powerful tool in your toolbox
- Free resources from NAfME for educators and parents, like this guide to connecting with legislators and Public Relations 101 guide, an insert for concert programs, and especially Broaderminded.com.
- Standardized testing and appropriate evaluation for music students
- The national Opt Out movement
- Burnout, including the teacher burnout crisis
Christopher Woodside returned to the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) in August of 2010 to assume the position of Assistant Executive Director heading the association’s Center for Advocacy and Constituency Engagement. In his current capacity, Christopher manages NAfME’s advocacy staff, directs, controls and oversees all issues with relation to the development and implementation of the association’s large-scale advocacy and public policy agendas, serves as NAfME’s primary lobbying presence on Capitol Hill, and facilitates music education’s newest collaborative advocacy venture: The Music Education Policy Roundtable.
Christopher maintains extensive relationships with key players on both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill and within various national policy circles. In addition to his work with The Roundtable, Christopher collaborates closely with the Arts Education Policy Working Group, the College, Career & Citizenship Readiness Coalition (CCCR), and the Committee for Education Funding (CEF).
Christopher’s primary federal policy expertise is the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA); he specializes in legislative deliberations regarding accountability, Title I funding, accessibility, teacher evaluation, teacher certification, and charter school curriculum and hiring. In his time back with NAfME, he has worked closely with key staff on both the House and Senate education committees aimed at improving federal support for music education.
In addition to lobbying on behalf of the Association, Christopher works closely with state music education associations on building capacity to tackle state- and local-level advocacy issues and develop coalitions of supporters. He has worked in conjunction with many state leaders to develop targeted advocacy practices and address current, jurisdiction-specific problems on the ground.
Christopher has spoken at numerous state MEA conferences across the country, at NAfME’s Music Education Week, at NAMM’s Fly-in event, at numerous other advocacy gatherings, and has participated in a variety of public policy forums.
Previously, Christopher has served as the Policy Coordinator for The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, in his first tenure with MENC, as the Director of Government Relations and Outreach, and as a Legislative aide to Representative Chris Van Hollen from Maryland’s 8th district. Christopher received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Miami University.