Proposed Consent Agreement In the Matter of Music Teachers National Association, Inc. #00150

Submission Number:
M. Shaffer
Initiative Name:
Proposed Consent Agreement In the Matter of Music Teachers National Association, Inc.
Matter Number:


Copy of letter sent to Ms. Kim Strassel, Wall Street Journal: Dear Ms. Strassel: Thank you for bringing the issue of the Federal Trade Commission’s investigation of alleged anti-competitive practices by the Music Teachers National Association to national attention in your November 29th article in The Wall Street Journal. Specifically, the FTC has focused on the provision in MTNA’s Code of Ethics which provides as follows: “The teacher shall respect the integrity of other teachers’ studios and shall not actively recruit students from another studio.”If the FTC did its research they would find that a significant number of MTNA members earn below the poverty level as private music teachers, so the “claim” that the MTNA Code of Ethics drives up teacher fees is ludicrous. (See 2013 Federal Poverty Guidelines, Furthermore, the MTNA Code of Ethics was written to protect the students as well as the teachers. Students are not marketable “goods,” so it is not comparable to retail or industrial competition. We devalue and dehumanize students when we actively recruit them from another teacher in order to have the best students. In my 35 years of teaching, I have yet to meet a teacher who recruits mediocre students from another teacher. Isn’t this getting a bit too close to slave trading? And, what is ethical and moral about stealing students (and thus income,) from our colleagues? This is not fair trade – it is pirating. Regardless, the MTNA Code of Ethics is exactly that – a code and not a law. Adherence to the code or violation thereof is not a requisite of membership. The code does not mandate that students cannot change teachers. (If FTC had done its research, they would find that many students do make teacher changes throughout their years of music study, AND on the recommendation of their current teacher.) The professional protocol is for the prospective member teacher to contact the current teacher in good faith to maintain positive professional relations for both the student and teacher. This protects the students, as it avoids potential conflict and uncomfortable situations for them at festivals and competitions, where they will most likely see their former teachers. Why are precious taxpayer dollars and music teacher volunteer hours being spent on this ridiculous non-issue? FTC -- let’s focus on what is in the best interest of our children and what best demonstrates professional ethics to our students. This is a no brainer and the FTC should be ashamed to represent the United States government and its citizens in this bureaucratic “bullying” manner. Sincerely, Mary Beth Barteau Shaffer, NCTM cc Senator Michael Bennet Senator Mark Udall Representative Douglas Lamborn