Proposed Consent Agreement In the Matter of Music Teachers National Association, Inc. #00122

Submission Number:
00122
Commenter:
Andrew Horowitz
State:
Virginia
Initiative Name:
Proposed Consent Agreement In the Matter of Music Teachers National Association, Inc.
Matter Number:

131-0118

As a longtime music teacher and longtime member of MTNA and its state and local affiliates, I would like to express my opposition to the consent decree. To summarize: I oppose the consent decree because it us UNFAIR, because it does not achieve any legitimate government aims related to fair trade, and because it is moot. The primary issue according to my understanding is MTNA's Code of Ethics which until this year contained a so-called non-solicitation clause. This clause, which was never enforced by MTNA, has been removed by the MTNA board, making the issue at the heart of the settlement moot. Some background may be useful: the intent of this clause was never to restrict competition in the marketplace--it was a long-standing issue of good manners. Music teachers meet each other and each others' students at events and competitions. It is simply bad manners to walk up to the student of another teacher at one of these events and to make a personal appeal to the specific student! General advertising and general appeals to potential students, including the students of other teachers, including google and email marketing, which I have always done, have never been considered out of bounds. And in any case, the idea that this now-deleted clause raises the rates that the public pays for music lessons is simply ludicrous. Other related issues including participation in student events are likewise unrelated to issues of fair trade and fair pricing. My local's events are 100% volunteer run. We, the teachers, get together and run events for the participation of our own students. We invest thousands of man-hours of labor, all without pay, because we believe we are working for our membership and our students. The idea that we might be required by the government to open our events to non-members on the grounds that this practice is anti-competitive is just silly. Most important: UNFAIR. The application of the law through this consent decree is UNFAIR. Realtors and many other professional groups have a similar prohibition on non-solicitation. Many groups restrict event participation on a membership basis, including particularly the similar organization National Federation of Music Clubs and its hundreds of local and state affiliates. In addition, the burdens of compliance on a 99% volunteer, mostly low income, and relatively small, group of dedicated independent music teachers is unfair. The burdens of compliance far, far, outstrip any theoretical fair trade harm that could ever have been caused by the issues as described.