2013 have no option for early retirement at 25 years of service, cannot retire until 62 years of age, have a lower percentage donated to their retirement accounts, and cannot accumulate sick leave time towards retirement credit. Recently a plan was introduced to allow Tier II employees to opt into a new Tier III plan which allows employees to serve for 30 years, and they would have the same percentage donated toward their retirement as Tier I employees. While Tier III would be an improvement over Tier II, it is still not equivalent to Tier I. Let’s hope that our Tier II generation teachers are afforded the opportunity at a better future. In other news from Montgomery, Governor Kay Ivey has proposed a 4% pay raise for school employees next year. PEEHIP is also fully funded in the Governor’s plan, so there would be no insurance increase for teachers.

GAAME Act Last Summer Congresswoman Velazquez and Senator Testor introduced the Guarantee Access to Arts and Music Education (GAAME) into discussions on Capitol Hill. The National Association for Music Education applauds the introduction of and wholeheartedly endorses the GAAME Act (H.R. 1676 and S. 885). If passed, this legislation would provide language articulating the ability for school districts to use their Title I, Part A funds to improve access to sequential music and arts education for disadvantaged and low-income students, including programs taught by certified music educators. The GAAME Act’s reinforcement that Title I’s school-wide and targeted assistance funds can be used to support music and arts education aligns with NAfME’s mission, which is to advance music education by promoting the understanding and making of music by all. Studies have shown that in-school music programs are highly valuable in engaging students by improving their overall participation and attendance, especially for students deemed at-risk. Furthermore, the benefits of music programs transcend typical quantifiable markers of academic achievement. Music

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Education at all grade levels has also been shown to support the development of essential 21st-century skills, such as critical thinking, collaboration, and creative problem-solving. When students are denied a quality music education, they are denied the ability to hone skills valuable for success in life. I have a feeling your Alabama Advocacy Team will be advocating for the GAAME Act on Capitol Hill when we visit Washington, D.C. in June.

Summer PD Opportunities Almost every day I receive an email (or ten) about a summer professional development opportunity, some of them in very desirable locales. Music Educators might be the best education professionals at seeking continuing education and professional development. We are also a group who is typically very willing to share what we have learned with others in our beloved field. So whether you plan to travel or stay more local, I would encourage you to seek a great professional

development opportunity this summer to both increase your effectiveness in the classroom and benefit your students. Our students deserve the best “us” that we can be.

Finish Strong As we close down this school year, I would encourage you to get plenty of rest, take care of your own health, and finish strong. Teach as hard as you can all the way through your last opportunity to see your students. We are all tired and weary at this time of year, as are our students. We all see the finish line together, but we can’t win the race if we stop short of the finish line. So let’s be great examples to our students, and finish strong.

Music Education is AWESOME in Alabama!

Respectfully Submitted, Greg Gumina, AMEA President


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