The Good News, and the Bad News

Mike Lawson • Perspective • June 8, 2018

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The good news: My original intent for this column this month was to announce how cool it is to welcome Colonel (Retired) Thomas H. Palmatier to the writing roster at SBO.

And I’m still doing that, but in an abbreviated manner. In the world of military bands, Palmatier is a rock star to me. He is the former Leader and Commander of The U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own” and Commander and Conductor of The United States Army Field Band. There isn’t much higher you can get in that world than conducting Pershing’s Own. He and I first met when we were seated at dinner together for a banquet during the American Bandmasters Association convention. We met again in Norfolk, Virginia last month when he was adjudicating for Festivals of Music. What I left out of my interview for that article last month was my comment to him when we talked, something to the effect of, “You’re pretty approachable for a grizzled old Army guy.” And he is. Approachable, that is, but none of the grizzled old Army guy one might expect. He completely impressed me with his dedication to music education, his determination to give back to the school music community, to teaching, and more. I am genuinely excited to tell everyone he will be writing a monthly feature for us, which was are calling, “In- Service.” I like that column name. It speaks to his devotion to our country and the importance of music in our military traditions. It also speaks to the training which music teachers regularly receive to keep growing in their craft of educating. And it also speaks to the calling to be in service in all we do in our lives. So, I welcome Colonel Palmatier to SBO, and know this is going to be a must-read for you each issue.

The bad news: The unfortunate reason I must cut short my introduction of the new column is to call attention to a troubling story we would be remiss not to cover in this magazine, given our reader audience and the population that they erve. I asked my associate editor, Victoria Wasylak, to report on the horrific allegations against George Hopkins, which came to light in April through a series of articles in the Philadelphia Inquirer, and have rocked the Youth Education in the Arts (YEA!) and DCI world. The allegations are shocking, and in this article, they are detailed, sometimes graphically. So be forewarned, Ms. Wasylak did not sugar-coat

the allegations of sexual assault made by what are now eleven women, against Mr. Hopkins, which he denies. Sometimes, perhaps we need to read everything to fully grasp how intolerable acts of sexual assault, harassment, and inappropriate conduct are for those on the receiving end of such treatment. There is simply no place in the world for this kind of behavior, and this is especially true in the world of education, where teachers and leaders are looked to for mentorship and guidance.

I applaud the actions of DCI in response to the allegations, and the actions of YEA!’s board in stepping down. Making sure these things stop happening should be a priority. Making sure victims feel safe enough to come forward is everyone in a leadership role’s responsibility. Making clear a path for safe reporting of unwanted behavior is a must. As your school year begins anew in the fall, this is a good time to make sure your district and school administration have a plan, and your students have multiple safe paths they can take if they are experiencing unwanted attention, abuse, or assault.

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