NEA Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly 2017

The World’s Largest Democratic Deliberative Assembly

NEA’s Annual Meeting takes place during the final week of June and/or the first week of July. Various committees, constituencies, caucuses, leadership groups, and delegates from state and local affiliates gather to set policy and chart the direction of NEA business.

The Representative Assembly (RA) takes place during the final four days of the Annual Meeting. It is the primary legislative and policymaking body of the Association and derives its powers from, and is responsible to, the membership. The Representative Assembly adopts the strategic plan and budget, resolutions, the Legislative Program, and other policies of the Association. Delegates vote by secret ballot on proposed amendments to the Constitution and Bylaws. Those delegates with full voting rights elect the executive officers, Executive Committee members, and at-large members of the NEA Board of Directors, as appropriate.

The RA consists of some 8,000 delegates representing state and local affiliates, student members, retired members, and other segments of the united education profession. Further information on the RA is contained in Article III of the Constitution (PDF Icon PDF, 101 KB, 31 pgs.) and in Bylaw 3 (PDF Icon PDF, 207 KB, 31 pgs.). The RA is the largest democratic deliberative assembly in the world and adheres to Roberts Rules of Order.

Young delegates find camaraderie, inspiration at NEA Representative Assembly

Approximately 8,000 delegates – including 122 from Wisconsin – will represent state and local affiliates, student members, retired members, and other segments of the united education profession at the NEA’s Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly this summer in Boston. This year’s events take place from June 25 to July 5.

Various committees, constituencies, caucuses, leadership groups, and delegates from state and local affiliates gather to set policy and chart the direction of NEA business. But the RA is about more than setting association policy. It’s also a venue for members and leaders to share information and insights, discuss leadership strategies, and form lasting friendships.

We asked a few of our young WEAC delegates why they chose to be NEA RA delegates and why it matters. Here is what they had to say:

Josh Jackson, K-5 teacher, Sherman Elementary School, Milwaukee Public Schools:

“As a young educator and union member, one of the most important things for me was to be active in any and every way possible. What I found is that by choosing to serve as a delegate, I opened the door to have a say in the direction of NEA and help support the needs and wants of educators from Wisconsin. After being elected, it was such an exhilarating experience to attend my first NEA RA last year in Washington, D.C. and stand on the floor of the RA with so many other educators from around Wisconsin and around the country and do the work of our union. Serving as a delegate to NEA RA matters to me because it is my way to give back to all those educators that have stood up for our students. By attending I want to make sure that Wisconsin’s voice is heard loud and clear and that everyone knows WE are here for the betterment of education in our state and nation!”

Justin Kamp, music teacher, Harmony Elementary School, Milton School District:

“The NEA RA is a great opportunity to be a voice for and with WEAC at the National Level. It is also a way to be engaged in the NEA and get a stronger understanding for what the NEA does for EVERY state.

“At the NEA RA it is great to be a part of discussion and decisions that will help shape, grow and move our union toward the future of education. We are the voice that advocates for quality public education for ALL students. It is crucial that newer WEAC members get involved and continue working with our union, for we are the future of the union.”

Gina Pagel, foreign language and literature teacher, Arboretum Elementary School, Waunakee Community School District:

“I am thrilled to serve as a delegate to the NEA RA this year! The Representative Assembly is our chance to speak for our students at the national level. It’s members’ chance to amplify the voices of fellow teachers from Wisconsin. It’s our chance to vote on the future direction of our association.The NEA RA will be our chance to vote to ensure that those who represent members from across the country every day have a clear vision. The RA is also a fabulous opportunity to network with other educators. I have met and formed a professional community with like-minded members who I can reach out to when I’m seeking advice about both school and the work of our local association. I’m so grateful to be a part of such a committed group of educators who lift one another up and push our association to be its very best. Serving as a delegate is one of many ways to get involved and to do our part as members of this organization.”

Nick Sirek, 6th grade teacher, DeLong Middle School, Eau Claire School District:

“I have chosen to serve as a delegate to the NEA RA for two main reasons. First, because it is one more way to get involved with the association! I am lucky to serve at the local and state level, and representing Wisconsin at the national level is another way for me to be an active member of the association. I am able to make connections between all levels for the members in Eau Claire. The second reason I serve as a delegate is because it is exciting! I cannot describe how thrilling it is to celebrate public education and public school educators with nearly 10,000 other delegates! Through my involvement at the NEA RA I am able to help promote students, public schools, and educators!”

Jane Weidner, social studies and Spanish teacher, Cedar Grove Middle School, Cedar Grove-Belgium School District:

“I am the NEA. The NEA is an organization of everyday education professionals, who work in the best interest of our students, our communities, and our schools. One of the ways that I can contribute to that cause is by attending the NEA Representative Assembly. It is democracy in action and allows me to have a voice in the direction that my union takes. We are in a time when public education is under attack, and it is crucial that we stand together with other educators from around the nation to protect our public schools. The NEA RA is one opportunity for me to do just that.”

NEA Leadership Visits Milwaukee to Learn More About Community Schools

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Milwaukee Public Schools has been getting some well-deserved attention for its commitment to the Community Schools model–which has grown from the advocacy of educators in the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association.

The district established the first three community schools in 2015 and has now expanded to a total of seven thriving community schools. Early growth shows improved school culture and climate, significant increases in literacy rates in early grades, dramatic growth in school and community partnerships, increased math proficiency in early grades, increased community engagement, and increased college and career pathways for students.

 

Authentic Community Schools link culturally relevant classroom practices with community services, social supports and neighborhood engagement. The Center for Popular Democracy identifies six research-based strategies that allow for greater student-centered learning and community investment. These strategies include: strong culturally relevant curriculum, high quality teaching; shared leadership; community support services; restorative practices; and family and community engagement.

Milwaukee’s early success with the model prompted National Education Association (NEA) President Lily Eskelsen Garcia, Vice President Becky Pringle, and Secretary Treasurer Princess Moss and members of the NEA Executive Council to visit. NEA’s trip signals the growing interest to strengthen and build the public Community Schools model nationwide.

 

The visit started with a trip to James Madison Academic Campus (JMAC), where the MPS Administration shared successes and challenges with implementing the Community Schools model.

NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia and her leadership team sit at the table with MTEA leadership and MPS Administration to discuss Community Schools in Milwaukee (Photo: Joe Brusky).

JMAC’s Community School Coordinator and Parent Coordinator provided their expertise to the group. These two positions are critical to establishing engaged parents and community for successful school outcomes.

The Community School Coordinator for James Madison Academic Campus (JMAC) presented to the group (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Following the visit to JMAC, the group made their way over to the newest Community School in Milwaukee, Lincoln Avenue, where the school’s “Lincoln Cheer Team” greeted them.

The Lincoln Cheer Team greeted the group upon their arrival (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Beck Pringle and Lily Eskelsen Garcia react to the festive welcome (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Lincoln Avenue’s parent coordinator showed off the school’s Parent Center. The center provides a hub for parents to increase engagement in the school’s operation as well as expand access to needed resources, such as Internet and laundry facilities.

Lincoln Avenue’s Parent Coordinator shares the early successes with the Parent Center at the new Community School (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Ryan Hurley of the United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County spoke on how his organization facilitates community partnerships by helping identify and mobilize neighborhood groups and resources. These neighborhood collaborations provide the school with additional support such as access to health services or other critical needs that must be met to ensure learning occurs.

Lily Eskelsen Garcia observes a reading group (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Finally NEA leadership got to see the model in action. They toured several rooms, including a bilingual kindergarten classroom. Lily Eskelsen Garcia, Becky Pringle, and Princess Moss used the opportunity to work and speak with students to experience how students are excelling. The early results on the Community School model are encouraging, but there’s no greater proof of the model’s success than seeing students thriving firsthand. We know when our students’ needs are met they flourish.

NEA Vice President Becky Pringle checks in on a young writer (Photo: Joe Brusky).

As the model grows nationwide, we look forward to making Milwaukee a place for other NEA educators to come and learn about how the model can enhance the quality of classroom practices and increase community involvement. Public community schools galvanize our educators around a vision inclusive of community control of public education which stands in stark contrast to the corporate destruction of our public schools system.

Lincoln Avenue students ask Lily Eskelsen Garcia and MTEA Vice President Amy Mizialko take a photo as they left the school (Photo: Joe Brusky).

 

Learn more about Community Schools here.

NEA Executive Committee visits MTEA, applauds Community Schools program

The Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association welcomed the National Education Association Executive Committee to Milwaukee Tuesday. The NEA leaders – including President Lily Eskelsen García, Vice President Becky Pringle and Secretary-Treasurer Princess Moss – met with MTEA’s leadership, MPS Administration and United Way representatives to find ways to continue the success and growth of Milwaukee’s seven #CommunitySchools. The group toured and met the students and staff of James Madison Academic Campus (JMAC) and Lincoln Avenue Elementary, both MPS Community Schools. MTEA’s Joe Brusky shared these – and more – photos on the MTEA Facebook page:

NEA says Trump’s action on transgender students is ‘dangerous and ill-advised’

From the National Education Association

The Trump administration is planning to release a new plan to rescind federal guidance to protect transgender students from discrimination. The National Education Association, the nation’s largest labor union, reiterated its pledge to double-down on protecting the civil rights of our LGBTQ students and members.

Withdrawing the guidance does not change the law. As most courts have held, Title IX protects transgender students, and only courts, and ultimately the Supreme Court, can change that. Schools have a legal and a moral duty to support all students, including transgender students. In fact, states, school districts, and schools nationwide are supporting and affirming transgender students, and we believe they will continue to do so with or without guidance from the Trump administration.

The following statement can be attributed to NEA President Lily Eskelsen García:

“Every student matters, and every student has the right to feel safe, welcomed, and valued in our public schools. This is our legal, ethical and moral obligation. The Trump administration’s plans to reverse protections for transgender students by rescinding the Title IX guidance, is dangerous, ill-advised, and unnecessary.

“We reject this discriminatory plan because it is a drastic departure from our core values. We don’t teach hate, we do not tell people how to pray, and we do not discriminate against people based on their religion, gender, or identity. Period.

“As the Trump administration threatens our students and our values, we will double-down on our efforts to protect our most vulnerable citizens, including our LGBTQ students and members. We urge more states, school districts, and schools to adopt protections for transgender students. We owe it to our students because they need to see us take a bold stand against discrimination whatever form it takes.”

To learn more about supporting transgender students in K-12, please click on the following NEA report titled “Schools in Transition: A Guide for Supporting Transgender Students in K-12 schools.”

NEA grant helps WEAC promote and support Education Support Professionals

WEAC has received a grant from the National Education Association’s Great Public Schools (GPS) Fund to build respect and recognition of Education Support Professionals. GPS Fund Grants, established by NEA members in 2013, are designed to help enhance the education profession and promote student success.  WEAC was one of 22 recipients.

“Nobody knows better than educators what their students need to succeed in the classroom,” said NEA Vice President Becky Pringle. “Through these grants, we are providing the resources to put plans and programs in action that really will help ensure opportunity, equity, and success for every public school student in America.”

Education Support Professionals are the wide range of school staff who team with teachers for student success, such as paraprofessionals, secretaries, custodians and bus drivers. Wisconsin’s effort will connect support professionals across school districts to promote professionalism and offer opportunities for professional growth.

“Support professionals have a direct impact on student learning,” said Arlene Braden, a high school secretary and WEAC Secretary-Treasurer. “We’re excited to lead efforts to recognize their important role and offer opportunities so they have even a more profound impact on students.”

The GPS Fund Grants program was established because NEA members believed that the Association could do more to help ensure the success of all students, regardless of their ZIP code. Previous grants have been used to support bullying and suicide prevention programs, increase the number of nationally board certified teachers (NBCTs), and provide professional development opportunities for educators. The grants also support programs that focus on successful students, accomplished professionals, dynamic collaboration, and empowered leaders.

Grants from the GPS Fund are made directly to NEA state and local affiliates for promising projects and ideas that improve student success. The funds also help affiliates build partnerships with local organizations and work with key education stakeholders to develop and implement programs and policies that emphasize student success through union-led efforts.

“Educators around the country reach, teach, and inspire students every day to learn and achieve their dreams, and to support their work we need to continue to accelerate the transformation of public education — these grants help with this process,” said Pringle.

NEA to new Congress: Now is time to renew commitment to public education

Lily Eskelsen García: Congress can put students and families ahead of partisan politics

eskelsen_garcia_new_congress_2017_350pxThe National Education Association and its 3 million members are urging the 115th U.S. Congress to renew its commitment to students and public education, to govern by putting families ahead of partisan politics, and to resist the temptation to undermine the American vision of public education.

NEA President Lily Eskelsen García issued the following statement:

“On behalf of the 3 million members of the National Education Association, I congratulate the members of the 115th Congress. With the election behind us, now is the time for Congress to put students and families ahead of partisan politics in order to get the work done on behalf of the American people.

“This is important because we believe all children, regardless of family circumstances or ZIP code, have the right to a public education that helps them reach their full potential and does not depend on living in advantaged circumstances, getting accepted by a private school or winning a charter school lottery. Our doors are open to all. Every student deserves the best our country can offer.

“Congress can start that process by renewing its commitment to the American vision of public education — one which welcomes and includes students of all backgrounds, identities, origins and abilities. We offer this keeping in mind the bipartisanship our nation saw during the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which produced the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). In passing ESSA, Congress acted with the best interests of all students in mind — and now it should allow states and local communities the room to effectively implement it and avoid slashing or diverting the resources that help make that possible.

“We also challenge Congress to take a bold stand against efforts by ideologues, corporations, billionaires and hedge fund managers to undermine and privatize public education and harm our students. Lawmakers have to resist the temptation to substitute the will of special interests for the experience and expertise of educators, the ones who know the names and faces of the students across the country.

“We urge Congress — Democrats, Republicans, Independents — to value and support this vision for a strong and inclusive public education system that ensures that all students can succeed. We look forward to working with all lawmakers who are willing to renew their commitment to public education, who will fulfill the promise of ESSA, and who will stand up for students and working families.”

‘Are you worthy of your students?’

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Repeating a question posed by former National Teacher of the Year Kim Oliver, National Education Association Vice President Becky Pringle asked participants at the WEAC Summer Leadership Academy Wednesday: “Are you worthy of your students?”

“We cannot say we are worthy of our children as long as fear and inequity, discrimination and injustice exist in our society,” Pringle said. “We cannot answer this question yes as long as one child feels that they are not valued and respected for who they are.

“It’s time to reclaim our profession for educators, our classrooms for students, our schools for our communities and public education for this democracy. It’s time to embrace Bishop Desmond Tutu’s defiant cry, ‘I wish I could shut up, but I can’t and I won’t.’

“If we stand together, they won’t know what to do with us,” Pringle said. “We’ll organize and agitate. We will change hearts and minds. We will stand together, and they won’t know what to make of us.

“We’ll unite social justice warriors all over the country, and we’ll keep coming and keep coming and keep coming, and they will falter. We will stand together, and they won’t be able to defeat us. We won’t shut up! We won’t shut up!”

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WEAC – Timeline | Facebook

Repeating a question posed by former National Teacher of the Year Kim Oliver, National Education Association Vice President Becky Pringle asked participants at the WEAC Summer Leadership Academy Wednesday: “Are you worthy of your students?” “We cannot say we are worthy of our children as long as fear and inequity, discrimination and injustice exist in our society,” Pringle said.

NEA’s Becky Pringle: Clinton nomination historic, powerful and emotional

Becky Pringle

Becky Pringle

Hillary Clinton’s cracking of the glass ceiling for women at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia is amazing, National Education Association Vice President Becky Pringle said in an interview with Workers Independent News.

“It was powerful. It was encouraging,” she said. “As a mother of a daughter, it was emotional quite honestly. And 2016, right? First nomination of a woman!”

Pringle said this achievement was built on the backs of powerful women who came before, like Shirley Chisholm, Barbara Jordan, Gloria Steinem, all the way back to Sojourner Truth.

“Sojourner Truth, in one of her abolitionist rallies, she said, ‘You know, if women wants any more rights than what they’s got why don’t they just take ‘em” and not be talkin’ about it!’ ”

WIN also interviewed American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten at the DNC. Listen to the interviews:

NEA Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly 2016

The World’s Largest Democratic Deliberative Assembly

NEA’s Annual Meeting takes place during the final week of June and/or the first week of July. Various committees, constituencies, caucuses, leadership groups, and delegates from state and local affiliates gather to set policy and chart the direction of NEA business.

The Representative Assembly (RA) takes place during the final four days of the Annual Meeting. It is the primary legislative and policymaking body of the Association and derives its powers from, and is responsible to, the membership. The Representative Assembly adopts the strategic plan and budget, resolutions, the Legislative Program, and other policies of the Association. Delegates vote by secret ballot on proposed amendments to the Constitution and Bylaws. Those delegates with full voting rights elect the executive officers, Executive Committee members, and at-large members of the NEA Board of Directors, as appropriate.

The RA consists of some 8,000 delegates representing state and local affiliates, student members, retired members, and other segments of the united education profession. Further information on the RA is contained in Article III of the Constitution (PDF Icon PDF, 101 KB, 31 pgs.) and in Bylaw 3 (PDF Icon PDF, 207 KB, 31 pgs.). The RA is the largest democratic deliberative assembly in the world and adheres to Roberts Rules of Order.