“Old Myths Die Hard”

Volume CIII, No. 12December, 2003

Johanna Kopp

I want to fight against the myth that we teaching artists have to accept low pay, no say and a poverty mentality just because we are devoted to teaching art. These and other related myths can sometimes be surprisingly resistant to “liberal” thinking!

During the two-year process of card signing, attending hearings at the NLRB, preparing for the election, conducting a faculty survey and negotiating, I realized that change can only happen when we unite.

And I learned a lot: to be clear, to express my ideas and convictions calmly, to separate personal feelings from differences of opinion, to appreciate when opponents take the time to listen and to explain their point of view, and to stand my ground – with courage if necessary.

Even though it wasn’t always easy to listen, to debate, to rethink and to compromise and even though it was difficult to put that much time and energy into the process, I treasure my experiences.

And I am very grateful to the Organizing Department and the president of Local 802, to everyone on the negotiating committee, to the supporting faculty and to the many supporting parents and friends.

I am happy that we got a contract and I am convinced that, united, we can do the huge amount of work ahead of us.

Old myths – like “teaching artists don’t deserve more” – die hard. But they eventually do die, given the right environment. We are responsible for creating that environment.

Johanna Kopp has taught Dalcroze, recorder and piano at the Kaufman Center for eight years.