Letter to our Membership

Dear CMEA membership,

Black Lives Matter. That should have been said outright in our previous message following the release of the statement by the All-State Choir chairs and their cohorts, and not doing so was a misstep. CMEA is 100% committed to racial justice, as we are toward other issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion, but having had a few days to reflect on the issue, we do not believe that we are taking a political position.  We are taking the position that Black lives matter, and that we, as an organization, are 100% committed to making sure people of all backgrounds – race, religion, sexual orientation…know that CMEA values and respects equally every human being who wants to make this world a better place. Like many people, we have been touched and moved by the events of the past couple of years as they pertain to injustices that have occurred. As an organization, we will strive to be better about working to make our society a fairer and more just one.

“What We Believe: Black Lives Matter

As a nation, we are hurting again. Still.

Racial injustice is real, and ongoing, and increasingly evident as COVID-19 disproportionately affects Black communities, and as we are again seeing videos of Black lives ending.

We see it. And we reiterate: Black Lives Matter.

We are listening. As teachers, we hear our students’ pain.

As the National Association for Music Education, we know that music is important in student lives—and we know that listening to music and making music are things that people do when they are experiencing strong emotions, including grief and anger. We know that the relationships we form in and through music mean that sometimes students turn to us when they are hurting. And we can say: I see you. I know this is wrong. If you want to talk, I am here.

As an association, we are a community, cut from the same fabric, and collectively—human. We are committed to learning more about racial injustice, standing in solidarity, and supporting justice within music education and our country. We invite each of our members to join us in listening and learning.“

As CMEA, we acknowledge the harm that was caused through the perception of CMEA’s actions. All teachers, students, and members of our music community need to know that they are safe, and respected, and welcome; to not freely and openly support the statement that “Black Lives Matter” runs counter to this goal. To all of those teachers, students, and community members who have been upset and otherwise harmed by the actions leading up to this, we extend our deepest apologies and want to assure you that we are committed to doing better.

In conjunction, our Equity and Advocacy Committee is working to develop two goals that align with our newly embedded mission statement, which reads as follows: “CMEA believes in equitable access for Connecticut music teachers and students to all CMEA related events, student activities, and professional development. CMEA welcomes all teachers and students regardless of race, ethnicity, disability, religious background, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, neurodiversity and other exceptionalities. We strive to embed diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) into the core values of CMEA, so that positive musical outcomes may flourish for all.” In addition, the Equity and Advocacy Committee is organizing an Equity professional development day for May 2022 that will highlight the rich diversity of our teachers and students.

As promised to students, the audio recording that the All-State choir collaborated on was shared with all the individual students in June. CMEA will be releasing an unedited version of the video to the choral directors who had students participate in the All State Choirs. We thank our choir chairs for their efforts in creating such a meaningful and engaging virtual festival experience for our students!

CMEA Executive Board
Dr. Jason Bouchard, President
Connecticut Music Educators Association

Barbara Skrebutenas
About Barb