Thursday, July 5, 2018

July 4th, 2018

Sorry for the delay!  These long days and 4 hour sleeps a night have caught up with your blogger, and I crashed last night!  So here's a summary of what happened on July 4th.

After our morning caucus from 7-9 am where we discussed some of the upcoming new business items and other items, we headed to the convention hall to vote, via secret ballot, for proposed constitutional amendments and bylaws, and for run off elections for NEA ESP at large and NEA director.  

We have a total of 129 submitted new business items, and we made it the day before to NBI 30, so we have much work to do!  By the way if you want to see what's going on with the NBIs, you can check them online.  It's interesting this year at the NEA RA, with the Supreme Court ruling on Janus v AFSCME, delegates are more conscious of the cost of certain NBIs and the feasibility of some of them (ie would they take time away from NEA staff resources on other issues).  By the end of the day on July 4th, we made it to NBI 62.

By the end of the 1st session (2 pm), we received the Elections Committee report.  To pass a constitutional amendment, the delegates would need a 2/3 majority vote (above 67%).  View the proposed amendments to Bylaws and Constitutional amendments and their results.

After the hour long break, we reconvene at 3 pm CST and heard from 2018 NCHE Higher Educator of the Year Loretta Ragsdell an Adjust Professor of English in Chicago.  She is the first ever recipient of this award!  Read the press release from NEA and read her remarks here.

Next on the agenda was to discuss and vote on a Proposed New Policy Statement.  A policy statement is like a resolution, but longer.  The proposed policy statement was on Community Schools. After some proposed amendments to the policy statement and debate, the new policy statement was adopted by the body.  NEA Vice President Becky Pringle shared that this new policy statement took over a year to research and craft. (report on Community School task force).

We moved on to resolutions.  You can see what happened to each proposed resolutions here. There was some debate on resolutions, in particular a new proposed resolution on White Supremacy Culture.  

Your Blog Team's Top 3 Things from Today were:
1.)  VEA President Jim Livingston, VEA VP James Fedderman, and VEA Interim Executive Director Tim Deadman were good sports and dressed up because we met our PAC goals. (see photos below)
2.) The defeat of proposed Constitutional Amendment 1.  This Constitutional Amendment was presented to delegates from the NEA Board of Directors. There was vigorous debate and with members of our delegation who were for and against it.  The constitutional amendment has a majority, but did not have the necessary 2/3 of the body to support it. Final result was 61% yes.  The blog team high lights this, because this highlights how important it is to vote and the power of the democratic body.
3.) The passing of Resolutions. When the body voted to adopt Resolutions there was a standing ovation and some tears from the delegates. It was an emotional moment because of the addition of the statement on White Supremacy Culture.  

It's Fisherman Jim Livinston! 
James Fedderman dressed up as Prince!

VEA Interim Executive Director Tim Dedman wearing an America Onesie

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

July 3rd, 2018

Day two of the NEA RA, and your blog captain is exhausted! 

During morning caucus, the resolutions team went over some suggested amendments and new resolutions.  One new resolution on White Supremacy. This generated some emotional and challenging conversations.  We also learned that VEA delegates helped raise $24,000 for the NEA Fund for Children (the Political Action Committee Fund).

We hurried over to the convention center (as fast as our buses could take us in traffic) and proceeded directly to the polls to vote for candidates for NEA Executive Director and NEA ESP Director at Large.  We elected two NEA Executive Directors, but will need to vote in a run off for one more NEA Executive Director and one NEA ESP director, as well as proposed constitutional and bylaw amendments. 

At the start of each session, delegates engage in at least 90 minutes of New Business Items (NBI). We made it to NBI 23 before we stopped to hear from the 2018 NEA Friend of Education Award recipient Ted Dintersmith.  Before we could break for lunch, we had to have the elections committee report...which wasn't ready, so back to NBIs!  Once the report was ready and presented, we then broke for an hour at 2 pm CST.

After the hour long break, we adjusted the schedule a little so the NEA Teacher of the Year Mandy Manning gave her speech and also shared the stage with two of her former students.  Read an article from NEA Today about Mandy and her students' speeches. 

After the speeches, it was time to debate proposed Constitutional and Bylaws Amendments.  Per the rules, before we can vote on them, via secret ballot, we must debate them, so we had to discuss them before we left today so we can vote on them tomorrow.  VEA President Jim Livingston spoke in opposition to proposed Constitutional Amendment 5 "To establish the Representative Assembly as the only body to recommend or endorse presidential candidates for both the primary and general election."  He shared the experiences VEA had with the recent gubernatorial election and early endorsement of Ralph Northam.  

At 5:40 pm, we had enough time to discuss one more NBI then adjourned at 6:00 pm.

Your Blog Team's Top 3 Things from Today were:
1.) During VEA Caucus, Delegates of various backgrounds, races and experiences openly partook in challenging and power conversations brought on by Resolution New I. And our Delegation voted in support of that resolution.
2.) The delegate assembly was surprised and thrilled by the NEA Choir’s modified rendition of “The Greatest *Work*” (from “The Greatest Showman”). It. Was. Awesome!!
3.) Two Students of NEA Teacher of the Year spoke and shared the importance of education.  “Students are your stars and you are the night sky. The power of education has no borders.”

July 2nd, 2018

It was the first day of the NEA RA!  Delegates started their day in morning caucus at 7 AM until 9 AM. Then we had a half hour ride from our hotel to the convention center in downtown Minneapolis. Once there we navigated to the hall and to our seats for the start of the NEA Representative Assembly! The National Education Association Representative Assembly–the RA–is the highest decision-making body within the over 3 million-member NEA. With over 8,000 delegates, the RA is also the world’s largest democratic deliberative body.

After the opening festivities (national anthem, pledge of allegiance, blessing), the delegates heard a keynote address from NEA President Lily Eskelsen-Garcia (text of her speech). During her remarks, she yielded her time to David Hogg, a recent high school graduate of Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.  We then adopted the rules for governing the RA, had a financial report from Secretary-Treasurer Princess Moss.  

After the financial and budget report, we heard from NEA Legal Counsel Alice O'Brien and NEA Executive Director John Stocks about how the Janus Decision might effect our organization.  Before breaking for lunch (at 2:30 pm CST!), we heard from all the candidates running for NEA office.

After lunch, we were treated to a speech from the NEA ESP of the Year Sherry Shaw from Alaska, who is an elementary school teacher assistant.  After the speech, we moved along to action on new business items (some were approved, some failed - see some of the NBIs here )  

Finally, we heard remarks from NEA Executive Director John Stocks.

Your Blog Team's Top Three Things from Today were:
1.) We heard from Sherry Shaw, Education Support Professional of the Year from Alaska. One highlight of her speech was ways she reached one of her students, Roman, a young man with autism. 
2.) As of the end of today’s delegation caucus, we have raised $19586 for the NEA Fund for Children and Public Education. Way to go, delegates. 
3.) We heard passionate speeches from the Randi Weingarten, the President of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and Lee Saunders, the President of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).