Cartoonist Illustrates Message of Rally for Music Education

Jul 15, 2022

MENC Executive Director John Mahlmann, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and cartoonist Tom Batiuk at the Rally for Music Education

At the June 18 Rally for Music Education, MENC presented Secretary of Education Arne Duncan with a special cartoon created by Tom Batiuk. The cartoon illustrated the message MENC hoped to convey to Duncan through the rally: that music is a critical part of education. The Petition for Equal Access to Music Education asks that the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Schools Act “not only identify music as a core subject, but also recognize music education as a mandatory component of every public education curriculum in the United States.”

A recent Pulitzer finalist for cartooning, Batiuk created and draws the “Funky Winkerbean” comic strip. A longtime supporter of music education, he creates the “Halle Dinkle” comic strip, which explores the life and times of a general music teacher, just for MENC members.

“It was incredibly exciting to be a participant in the Rally,” said Batiuk. “MENC had asked if I could create a cartoon using my Funky characters to present to Secretary of Education Duncan, and, of course, I was more than happy to. I heard the Secretary of Education remark on PBS recently regarding the importance of art and music in the curriculum, so it seems the Rally helped reinforce that idea.”

“Secretary Duncan seemed very pleased with the cartoon,” Batiuk added. “He remarked that it was his first appearance in one.”

“Tom Batiuk is one of music education’s greatest friends,” said John Mahlmann, MENC Executive Director. “MENC and all our members are grateful for his support of our efforts to raise awareness of the importance of music in every child’s education.”

During Music Education Week, Batiuk was honored by MENC as a Lowell Mason Fellow. “I’m very gratified that the MENC feels my work has done something to raise awareness about music education and its importance,” he said. “If that’s the case, it’s simply been a payment in return for what my music education gave to me.”

For information on reprinting this cartoon for music education advocacy, contact

Photo by Becky Spray.
Elizabeth Lasko, July 30, 2009. © MENC: The National Association for Music Education

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