National Education Association (NEA)

 
2016 NEA Annual Meeting

http://ra.nea.org Representative Assembly

RA 2016: Educators Stand Up for Unity, Social Justice
http://ra.nea.org/2016/07/07/2016-ra-wrap-unite-inspire-lead/

Clinton visit and action taken to protect rights of LGBTQ students highlight 2016 RA. The 95th NEA Representative Assembly (RA) kicked off on the morning of July 4 with the typical energetic celebration, as the 7,000 delegates danced to sounds of Prince and Michael Jackson blasting through the Washington, D.C., Convention Center. But, as NEA … Continued

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Clinton visit and action taken to protect rights of LGBTQ students highlight 2016 RA.

The 95th NEA Representative Assembly (RA) kicked off on the morning of July 4 with the typical energetic celebration, as the 7,000 delegates danced to sounds of Prince and Michael Jackson blasting through the Washington, D.C., Convention Center. But, as NEA President Lily Eskelsen García took the stage to deliver her keynote address, the mood quickly changed.

Lily Eskelsen Garcia's Keynote Address at NEA's 2016 Representative Assembly, Washington, DC.“We will not begin without honoring those who lost their lives for no other reason than that they were gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender,” Eskelsen García informed the delegates. “Today, we mourn with Orlando.” Forty-nine educators then filed to the front of the stage with the images of the 49 people who were killed in the Pulse nightclub shootings in Orlando on June 12.

“There’s a real world out there, and it’s not a safe place. It’s dangerous, and the work we’ll do in this safe place is important, because it has the chance to change the world out there. That dangerous world needs us,” Eskelsen García said. “We’re living under a toxic, choking environment where entire groups of people are demonized, targeted and terrorized.”

Tribute to Orlando Victims at NEA's 2016 Representative AssemblyAs the top decision-making body for the 3 million-member NEA, the RA responded by approving a new business item, calling on the Association to join a national effort to prevent acts of violence targeted at LGBTQ individuals and to protect their civil rights. The NBI calls on a multi-pronged approach in the courts and legislatures.

The delegates also took action on the school-to-prison pipeline, approving a new policy statement. The statement is framed as a call to action to help create awareness of the issue by educating educators and the public about the striking racial disparities among the students most affected by it.

NEA Vice President Becky Pringle delivers the reports on institutional racism to delegates to the 2016 RA.“We are making a long-term investment. An investment that will command persistence and struggle and commitment and a whole lot of work from every single one of us,” said NEA Vice President Becky Pringle.

Fear and divisiveness has always been used as a cudgel by politicians, but the ascent of Donald Trump – and his toxic brand of racial demagoguery – has magnified the stakes of the upcoming election. On July 5, delegates were visited by the presumptive 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, whose vision for the nation, said Eskelsen García, believes that a nation is stronger when standing together, not divided.

In her address to the RA, Clinton also spotlighted her priorities for public education, vowing to elevate the teaching profession, de-emphasize standardized testing, and harness community resources to help create great public schools for every student regardless of Zip code. And it’s time to stop the war on teachers, Clinton told the delegates.

RA2016-HRC_NEA_RA-Speech“I’m with you. If I’m fortunate enough to be elected president, educators will have a partner in the White House – and you’ll always have a seat at the table,” she announced to resounding cheers from the delegates, who following the speech voted to overwhelmingly recommend Clinton for the general election.

NEA members were instrumental in the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act that ended the era of No Child Left Behind. For shepherding through a better law and for listening to the voices of educators, NEA presented its 2016 Friend of Education Award to Sens. Patty Murray of Washington and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who both accepted the honor in person.

The RA also spotlighted the 2016 NEA Social Justice Activist of the Year, the California-based Union City Educators, who have brought Filipino heritage into the schools through ethnic studies curriculum, student and community engagement, and activism.

ESP of the Year 2016 Representative AssemblyDelegates heard from NEA Education Support Professional (ESP) of the Year Doreen McGuire-Grigg, who spoke of the herculean efforts of ESP throughout the nation. She advocated for the inclusion of ESP, and underscored the value they bring to other educators and students.

“We are more than partners, we are problem-solvers. We are an untapped resource and we are here to support the whole student, the whole school and the whole community. We are the secret weapons,” McGuire-Grigg said.

2016 Teacher of the Year Jahanna Hayes addresses the 95th Representative Assembly in Washington, D.C.In her speech, 2016 National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes urged delegates to never underestimate the power they have to transform the lives of their students.

“Students should see their teachers as someone who cares about their academic success and their personal growth,” Hayes said. “Someone who cares about their families and their communities. Someone who takes the time to learn their stories and understand their journeys. We are the people who ignite passions in students.”

How do we ensure that educators will always serve this critical role? asked NEA Executive Director John Stocks. After all, more than 2 million new educators will be entering the workforce over the next five years alone. In his address to the RA, Stocks warned the delegates that the new generation of educators may not necessarily understand how vital their association can and will be to them and their students.

NEA's Executive Director John Stocks gives speech to 95th Representative Assembly n Washington, D.C.“We must become relevant to them, to help them meet the changing needs of their students…to help them be successful educators, and to tap into their idealism,” Stocks said. “And we must act with urgency.”

At every RA, delegates are charged with electing new NEA leaders. In addition to voting for new Board of Director members, delegates also re-elected Maury Koffman of Michigan and Kevin F. Gilbert of Mississippi to serve another three-year term each on the NEA Executive Committee.

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U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray Earn NEA’s Highest Honor
http://ra.nea.org/2016/07/07/u-s-senators-lamar-alexander-patty-murray-earn-neas-highest-honor/

Friend of Education award recognizes bipartisan collaboration to pass Every Student Succeeds Act

In the midst of one of the most politically gridlocked eras in Washington, D.C., two U.S. senators from opposite sides of the political aisle set aside their differences to successfully champion the passage of a federal education law that touches millions of students, educators, and tens of thousands of public schools. The passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) marked the end of No Child Left Behind and the beginning of a new era in public education. For their leadership and significant contributions to public education, today, the National Education Association bestowed its highest honor, the Friend of Education Award, upon Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander, a Republican, and Washington Senator Patty Murray, a Democrat, before more than 7,000 educators gathered at the NEA 95th Representative Assembly in Washington.

“The hard work and bipartisan cooperation of Senators Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray to pass ESSA will ensure that all students regardless of ZIP code will have equal opportunity to a high-quality public education for years to come,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “They were instrumental not only in the passing of the critical K-12 federal education law, but they listened, they set the tone of bipartisan cooperation, and they got the job done on behalf of the nations students and educators. Their bold leadership ushered a new chapter in public education, one in which educators have a seat at the table to make decisions that affect their students and classrooms. We are honored and grateful to call them an NEA Friend of Education.”

The Washington Post called their alliance to mesh together a working draft and find common ground on key points of the legislation the lost art of compromise. In the end, 13 years in the making, after stalling a number of times, and after some called the reauthorization effort on life support, ESSA passed by bipartisan majority of the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House. All key congressional players–Sen. Lamar Alexander, chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee; the committees ranking Democrat, Sen. Patty Murray; House Education and the Workforce Committee chair John Kline, and ranking member Bobby Scott–delivered a bill for President Obama to sign into law before an audience of educators, parents, and public education advocates at a White House ceremony.

“I am here to honor the classroom teachers who helped to fix No Child Left Behind,” said Senator Lamar Alexander, a chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. “We’ve reversed the trend toward a national school board and restored responsibility for children in 100,000 public schools to states, communities and teachers. Our job last year was to pass a law. Our job this year is to make sure that the U.S. Secretary of Education implements the law the way Congress wrote it. So tell the Secretary: ‘no more national school board, no more ‘Mother, May I?’ waivers, and no more Washington mandates telling us exactly how to evaluate teachers and whether schools are succeeding or failing. The path to better schools is through decisions by those closest to our children, not through a distant department in Washington, D.C.”

“It’s an honor to receive the Friend of Education Award and to recognize all the incredible teachers and paraeducators that make up the National Education Association,” said U.S. Senator Patty Murray, the committees ranking Democrat. “As leaders in our classrooms, schools, and communitiesyou make up the heart and soul of education in America. Thats why I worked so hard to make sure your voices were heard as ESSA was written and its why I am fighting to keep you in the room as the law is implemented. I look forward to continuing to work together so that every child in our nation has the opportunity to succeedregardless of where they live, how they learn, or how much money their parents make.”

The RA is the top decision-making body for the nearly 3 million-member NEA, and sets policy for the coming year, as well as adopt the strategic plan and budget, resolutions, the legislative program, and other policies of the Association. The NEA RA is the worlds largest democratic deliberative body.

The Friend of Education Award, presented each year during NEAs Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly, recognizes a person or organization whose leadership, acts or support significantly have contributed to the improvement of American public education. Previous award recipients include PBS, Nobel-prize winning Malala Yousafzai; economist Paul Krugman; education policy writer and researcher Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond; U.S. Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson, James Earl “Jimmy” Carter, Jr., and William Jefferson Clinton; U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall; U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley; U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California), Sen. Patty Murray, and U.S. Sen. Edward “Ted” Kennedy (D-Massachusetts).

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You Can Be Your Students’ Hero, Teacher of the Year Tells RA Delegates
http://neatoday.org/2016/07/07/2016-teacher-year-jahana-hayes/

In a stirring and emotional speech to the NEA Representative Assembly (RA) on Thursday, 2016 National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes urged her colleagues to never underestimate their potential to transform the lives of their students. If her teachers had given up on her, Hayes told the delegates in the Washington D.C. Convention Center, … Continued

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In a stirring and emotional speech to the NEA Representative Assembly (RA) on Thursday, 2016 National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes urged her colleagues to never underestimate their potential to transform the lives of their students. If her teachers had given up on her, Hayes told the delegates in the Washington D.C. Convention Center, she would not be been standing before them as teacher of the year.

“I was oblivious to opportunities that existed outside of the projects where I grew up, but my teachers vicariously ignited a passion in me,” Hayes recalled. “Despite being surrounded by abject poverty, drugs and violence, my teachers made me believe that I was college material and planted a seed of hope.”

“I identify with my students because I am my students and I know what it feels like when every statistic and everything around you is an indicator or a predictor of failure,” Hayes said.

Hayes teaches history at John F. Kennedy High School in Waterbury, Conn. She was named National Teacher of the Year in April by the Council of School State Officers and was honored by President Obama at the White House. As teacher of the year, Hayes will spend a year traveling the nation to represent educators and advocate on behalf of public education.

A member of the Connecticut Education Association and the Waterbury Teachers Association, Hayes thanked the union for keeping her “grounded” and making sure her devotion and commitment to her students is never exploited.

“As a teacher I am so emotionally invested in the success of my students that I sometimes forget that I deserve the respect and dignity of being a professional,” Hayes told the delegates. “[My union] ensures that I am treated like the professional that I am and my creativity is not stifled by mandates. My union advocates on my behalf and creates a structure that protects me from myself.”

But don’t ever expect Hayes to stay confined by the boundaries of “traditional teaching responsibilites.”

“I know that for many of my students I am their only hope,” she said. “It is those times when I am transformed into an advisor, counselor, confidant and protector I have made the commitment to help my students in the same way my teachers helped me.”

The academic success of students, especially those in urban public school districts like Waterbury, requires this level of engagement and dedication, Hayes told the delegates.

It’s about meeting struggling students where they are, she added, and not letting where they should be become a box to put them in. Academic success for many of these students may be unreachable unless they know that their teachers care.

“Students should see their teachers as someone who cares about their academic success and their personal growth. Someone who cares about their families and their communities. Someone who takes the time to learn their stories and understand their journeys. We are the people who ignite passions in students,” Hayes said.

Hayes closed her speech by reminding the delegates that they are not mere “visitors” in their students’ lives.

“Continue growing, guiding and loving your students because you may have the next president, supreme court justice, doctor, lawyer, business owner, performer, volunteer, activist, or national teacher of the year sitting in your classroom.”

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NEA Takes a Stand on the School-to-Prison Pipeline
http://ra.nea.org/2016/07/06/nea-takes-stand-school-prison-pipeline/

The delegates to the 2016 Representative Assembly voted today on a new NEA Policy Statement on school discipline and the school-to-prison pipeline. NEA Vice President Rebecca S. Pringle and NEA Executive Committee Member Kevin F. Gilbert gave a compelling presentation to the RA delegation, encouraging the body to vote yes on the policy statement. The … Continued

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The delegates to the 2016 Representative Assembly voted today on a new NEA Policy Statement on school discipline and the school-to-prison pipeline. NEA Vice President Rebecca S. Pringle and NEA Executive Committee Member Kevin F. Gilbert gave a compelling presentation to the RA delegation, encouraging the body to vote yes on the policy statement.

The policy stems from last year’s RA, which passed a New Business Item (NBI B) that directed the Association to combat Institutional Racism, and spot­light systemic patterns of racism and educational injustice that impact students—and to take action to enhance access and opportunity by demanding changes to policies, programs, and practices that condone or ignore unequal treatment and hinder student success.

“The NEA-ATA merger, which we commemorated at this Representative Assembly ensured that NEA would keep social justice advocacy at the forefront of its mission to provide quality public education for all of America’s students,” said Pringle. “Our focused work on Institutional Racism was another step in keeping that commitment.”

The work around school discipline and the school-to-prison pipeline will rest on building awareness, educating members and the community, and partnering with affiliates and members to take action.

A committee of NEA leaders spent a year studying the school-to-prison pipeline, and recognized that this is a direct result of Institutional Racism and intolerance. The group convened this past spring to develop a policy statement to address this issue at the 2016 RA. The committee was chaired by Pringle and Mississippi’s Gilbert. Committee members hailed from across the country: South Carolina, California, Massachusetts, Maryland, Idaho, Colorado, Minnesota, Illinois, North Carolina, Nevada, Michigan, Oregon, and New Jersey.

The school-to-prison policy statement calls attention to policies and practices that push many students out of public schools and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems, such as zero-tolerance discipline, increased police pres­ence in classrooms and hallways, insufficient services and support, and rising class sizes.

Gilbert shared the story of a young man from Mississippi who spent 21 days in a juvenile detention center for a little more than talking back in class. “He,” said Gilbert “is not alone.”

The policy statement is framed as a call to action that compels the 3-million-member NEA to embrace the vote and help to create awareness of the school-to-prison pipeline by educating educators and the public about the striking disparities among those most affected by it.

These policies and actions have led to the disproportionate removal from school of students of color, including those who identify as LGBTQ, have disabilities, or are English Language Learners.

“We have an opportunity to be leaders on this issue, and steer our students away from criminal punishment and toward the success we all wish for them,” said Gilbert. “Students belong in the school house, not the jail house,” he added.

The committee recommended that NEA create a campaign of awareness and advocacy to address and end the school-to-prison pipeline. The campaign tasks the Association to educate educators, parents, policy makers, elected leaders, and community members about the existence of problems and disparities in school discipline. Educators will receive training and professional development to help remedy these disparities. Moreover, NEA will develop model discipline policies and guidance to help implement successful discipline strategies based on restorative justice and other just discipline practices.

Five guiding principles will drive this work: Eliminating Disparities in Discipline Practices; Creating a Supportive and Nurturing School Climate; Professional Training and Development; Partnerships and Community Engagement; and Student and Family Engagement.

“We’ve done a lot this year, but we have so much work ahead of us,” said Pringle. “We are making a long-term investment. An investment that will command persistence and struggle and commitment and a whole lot of work from every single one of us….This, NEA, is a movement moment….all our students are depending on us.”

Join activists from across the nation to fight for racial, social and economic justice in public education. Start by visiting educationvotes.nea.org/neaedjustice/, which is a one-stop place for social justice action.

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NEA Executive Director: We Must Give Voice to the New Generation of Educators
http://ra.nea.org/2016/07/06/nea-executive-director-must-give-voice-new-generation-educators/  

Momentous and lasting changes are underway in the nation’s public schools. The student population is more racially and culturally diverse, and digital technology is reshaping teaching and learning. But another significant transformation is in progress, NEA Executive Director John Stocks told the NEA Representative Assembly on Wednesday. “There is a major generational shift happening in … Continued

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Momentous and lasting changes are underway in the nation’s public schools. The student population is more racially and culturally diverse, and digital technology is reshaping teaching and learning. But another significant transformation is in progress, NEA Executive Director John Stocks told the NEA Representative Assembly on Wednesday.

“There is a major generational shift happening in our workplaces…and it’s accelerating,” Stocks said. In public schools, more than 2 million new educators will be entering the workforce over the next five years alone.

The challenges this new generation of educators will face and the role NEA can and must play in helping them excel at their careers was the focus of Stock’s address to the 7,000 delegates gathered in the Washington D.C. Convention Center.

Strong public schools depend on strong unions, so the NEA must ensure the next generation of educators are supported in their practice, provided a voice in their professions, and given an opportunity to lead on their passion for justice for their students.

But do they understand, as they enter the workplace, how relevant their association can and will be to them and their students?

Probably not, Stocks said, because this new generation has vastly different life experiences – and different expectations – than their predecessors. We cannot expect a Millennial entering the profession today to reflexively draw knowledge and inspiration from the historic victories that advanced social and economic justice decades ago, he added.

“For most of them, the civil rights and labor movements are something they’ve only read about in history books. It’s clear to me that what worked for our union so well for so long…isn’t going to be enough anymore.”

“We must become relevant to them, to help them meet the changing needs of their students…to help them be successful educators, and to tap into their idealism,” Stocks continued. “And we must act with urgency.

It’s time to stop talking and start listening, Stocks said. NEA shouldn’t tell new educators what they want or need to succeed, it should ask them what they need. Don’t tell them what the union can do for them, ask them how the union can help them.

Delegates raise their hands during NEA Executive Director John Stocks' speech at the 95th Representative Assembly in Washington, D.C.
Delegates raise their hands during NEA Executive Director John Stocks’ speech at the 95th Representative Assembly in Washington, D.C.

The NEA and its affiliates are already immersed in this urgent work, creating pathways in every district to hold one-on-one conversations with potentially every single one of the 173,000 new hires entering our schools in the fall.

Ambitious? Definitely. And maybe even a little crazy, Stocks joked, but he stressed that it’s up to every educator inside and outside the hall to define the union for this new generation. If educators don’t, he warned, someone else will.

“If we don’t reach out to them 1-to-1 and support them, our students will lose, our schools will lose…and our union will lose.”

Stocks recounted recent conversations with first-year teachers that were both inspiring and heartbreaking. They all love their students and are determined to succeed but they are also overwhelmed, don’t feel supported and are fighting off discouragement.

These new educators tend to look to the colleagues for support, and that’s all of you, Stocks told the delegates. But here’s the catch: they probably don’t know that their colleagues are the union.

Engaging this new generation, Stocks said, “is a simple act totally within our control.”

“That is our responsibility to the millions of students and educators who need us to give them a greater voice. And that is our legacy to the new educators coming of age who will someday soon fill this great hall, take up the gavel, champion the cause… and make their own history. “

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Michigan and Mississippi educators Reelected to NEA Executive Committee; New Leaders Elected to NEA Board of Directors
http://ra.nea.org/2016/07/06/michigan-mississippi-educators-reelected-nea-executive-committee-new-leaders-elected-nea-board-directors/

Delegates to NEA’s RA reelected yesterday Maury Koffman of Michigan and Kevin F. Gilbert of Mississippi to serve another three-year term each as NEA Executive Committee members. The Committee is a nine-member governing body that is responsible for the general policy and interests of the nearly 3 million-member NEA. More than 7,000 delegates to the … Continued

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Delegates to NEA’s RA reelected yesterday Maury Koffman of Michigan and Kevin F. Gilbert of Mississippi to serve another three-year term each as NEA Executive Committee members. The Committee is a nine-member governing body that is responsible for the general policy and interests of the nearly 3 million-member NEA.

More than 7,000 delegates to the assembly voted to reelect Koffman, an educator, leader, and second generation union activist from East Lansing, Michigan. Koffman is serving his sixth-term as president of the 2,200-member Michigan State University Administrative Professional Association, the largest local affiliate in the Michigan Education Association. Koffman’s mother was a union president of a local organization. He served two terms on the NEA Board of Directors, and as a member of the NEA Board Steering Committee. He earned a bachelor’s degree and a law degree from Michigan State University. He’s a graduate of the NEA Emerging Leader Academy.

“I am honored to continue to serve on the Executive Committee,” said Koffman. “Our fight to ensure that our students have the high-quality public education they deserve continues. We must unabashedly pursue racial justice in education, combat institutional racism, and eradicate the school-to-prison pipeline. We must stand up and speak out for our LGBTQ students and members. We are united, inspired and ready to lead.”

Delegates also reelected veteran educator Gilbert of Ridgeland, Mississippi. Gilbert has served on the NEA Executive Committee since 2013, and currently works as a Teacher Leadership Coordinator for the Clinton Public School District. Previously, he was president of the Mississippi Association of Educators. Gilbert has worked as a social studies teacher, a coach and an administrator with the Clinton Public School District (Sumner Hill Jr. High School and Clinton High School); Rankin County School District (Northwest Rankin High School) and the Hinds County School District (Carver Middle School). His educational experience includes substitute bus driving while working in Rankin County, and substitute teaching with the Jackson Public School District. Gilbert is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi (BA’94; MS’96) and Mississippi College (Ed.S.’04, Ed.D. ’15).

“I am elated to be reelected to the Executive Committee for another three years,” said Gilbert. “I look forward to the work ahead. We have a wonderful opportunity to position NEA to do some powerful work around the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act, eradicating institutional racism, dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline, organizing early educators, and empowering our members to use their collective voice to make the dream of great public schools for every student a reality.”

NEA Board of Directors

NEA RA delegates also voted for new members to the Board of Directors. Delegates elected the following four educators representing at-large education support professionals (ESP): Ellen Olson, a sign language interpreter from Saint Paul, Minnesota; Andrea L. Beeman, a para-educator from Maple Heights, Ohio; Ashanti Rankin, a paraprofessional from Millville, New Jersey; and James Frazier, a security officer from Union Township, New Jersey.

Delegates also elected four educators to the Board of Directors to represent classroom teachers in higher education: Loretta A. Ragsdell, adjunct professor of English from Oak Park, Illinois; Dewayne Sheaffer, professor from Lakewood, California; J. Philippe Abraham, counseling faculty from Slingerlands, New York; and Elizabeth K. Davenport, a professor from Tallahassee, Florida.

Susan Williams Brown, a college math instructor at Gadsden State was elected alternate at-large director representing classroom teachers in higher education. Delegates elected Sequanna Taylor, a parent engagement specialist from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as alternate at-large director representing ESP. They also elected two at-large directors to represent administrators: Dale D. Kaiser, an Assistant Director of Human Resources from Duncanville, Texas; and Cynthia Henderson of Louisiana, alternate.

Their three-year terms begin September, 1, 2016.

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ESPs: ‘We are Secret Weapons and a Key Ingredient’ to School and Student Success
http://ra.nea.org/2016/07/05/esps-secret-weapons-key-ingredient-school-student-success/
NEA’s ESP of the Year Doreen McGuire-Grigg, a special education paraeducator in California’s Lakeport Unified School District, took to the stage on July 5 to address nearly 7,000 of her colleagues during NEA’s RA. But before doing so, she did what most people would do: she took a selfie with Lily Eskelsen García. Long known … Continued

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ESP of the Year Doreen McGuire-Grigg takes selfie with NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia
ESP of the Year Doreen McGuire-Grigg gets a selfie with NEA President Lily Eskelsen García at the 2016 Representative Assembly in Washington, D.C.

NEA’s ESP of the Year Doreen McGuire-Grigg, a special education paraeducator in California’s Lakeport Unified School District, took to the stage on July 5 to address nearly 7,000 of her colleagues during NEA’s RA. But before doing so, she did what most people would do: she took a selfie with Lily Eskelsen García.

Long known as a “pathbreaker” and an admired leader with the California Teachers Association, McGuire-Grigg spoke of the herculean efforts of ESPs throughout the nation. She advocated for the inclusion of ESPs, and underscored the value ESPs bring to other educators and students.

“It is an honor for me to stand here today, representing incredible education support professionals from around the United States,” said McGuire-Grigg, who told the roaring crowd that ESPs are often the bridge between schools and communities. “…And as such, we are often a school community’s secret weapon. We see the whole child, we notice their victories and their challenges.”

The 28-year paraeducator recognized several of her peers: a dropout coordinator from Arizona who works to keep students in school by connecting them to college aid; a substitute teacher coordinator from Georgia who mentors students and connects at-risk youth to volunteer opportunities; and a Wisconsin bus driver who started a book sharing program on his bus that has since spread to the entire district’s busses.

McGuire-Grigg also highlighted Massachusetts’s Nancy Burke, a special education paraeducator, who engaged her students and pulled the entire school community together to create an outdoor learning garden designed especially for students with disabilities.

“Some of Nancy’s students have limited mobility and some have severe disabilities that keep them from speaking or learning to read,” explained McGuire-Grigg. “Many come from families living in poverty. Most had never even seen or been in a garden before.”

NEA’s ESP of the Year Doreen McGuire-Grigg addresses the 2016 Representative Assembly
“We need teachers to be our secret weapons. We need your stories, your passion and your numbers.” NEA’s 2016 ESP of the Year addressing the Representative Assembly in Washington, D.C.

She referred to her peers as “secret weapons,” people who change lives, bring communities together, and support student success, and encouraged her colleagues to include ESPs in their next union meeting or event.

“Ask an ESP to join you,” said McGuire-Grigg, who grew up in the same community where she now works. Her father was a teacher and administrator with the Lakeport Unified School District for more than 35 years.

“Even if they’re already members, asking or including an ESP can make all the difference not only to an educator who sometimes feels invisible, but to the students we all serve. It’s smart to include us in your battles – we are secret weapons and a key ingredient!”

McGuire-Grigg also emphasized how ESPs are a part of the fight against toxic testing and institutional racism, and asked teachers to join their fight against the threats of privatization, saying the work of ESPs is constantly under threat because our jobs are being targeted by private corporations who put profits before students.

“Would an outside contractor know to put an extra scoop of vegetables on the tray of a student that doesn’t know where or when his next meal is coming from,” asked McGuire-Grigg. “Would an outside contractor stay after school to fill backpacks full of food for students to eat over the weekend? Would an outsider comfort a crying student and walk them to the office?”

She added, “We need teachers to be our secret weapons. We need your stories, your passion and your numbers. If you see us picketing to fight outsourcing or for a living wage, pick up a sign and join the line.”

The paraeducator closed with an inspiring message: “Amazing things can happen when education support professionals are treated as equals—as partners and allies in student success. We are more than partners, we are problem solvers. We are an untapped resource and we are here to support the whole student, the whole school and the whole community. We are the secret weapons.”

As ESP of the Year, McGuire-Grigg represents NEA and other ESP at national education conferences, media events, and other community occasions. The annual award is NEA’s highest for an ESP. Approximately, 2.8 million school support staff work in the nation’s public school systems, with more than 75 percent working at the K-12 level.

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‘I’m With You,’ Hillary Clinton Tells NEA RA Delegates
http://ra.nea.org/2016/07/05/im-hillary-clinton-tells-nea-ra-delegates/
In a rousing and passionate address to the National Education Association Representative Assembly on Tuesday, Hillary Clinton said the nation needs to give our schools more “TLC “- teaching, learning, and community, the three pillars of her vision to strengthen public education. But any national campaign to create great schools for every student, she added, … Continued

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In a rousing and passionate address to the National Education Association Representative Assembly on Tuesday, Hillary Clinton said the nation needs to give our schools more “TLC “- teaching, learning, and community, the three pillars of her vision to strengthen public education. But any national campaign to create great schools for every student, she added, will only succeed with the strong voices of educators.

“I’m with you,” the presumptive 2016 Democratic presidential nominee declared to enthusiastic applause. “I have this old-fashioned idea that we should listen to the teachers and the support professionals who are with our kids every day.”

In introducing the presumptive 2016 Democratic nominee, NEA President Lily Eskelsen García described her as someone who has “always spoken truth to power, but it’s the action she’s known for” – on issues, ranging from universal health care to institutional racism.

“And she is someone who sees a student as a whole child, not a test score,” Eskelsen García said.

Clinton told the 7,000 delegates gathered in the Washington Convention Center that it was time to discard the “education wars” that have polluted the national debate over education and encouraged a “blame teachers first” mentality that became so pervasive in state legislatures and media outlets across the country.

“There is no time for finger pointing, or arguing over who cares about kids more.,” Clinton said. “It’s time to set one table and sit around it together – all of us – so we can work together to do what’s best for America’s children.” And that table, Clinton promised, will have always have a seat for educators.

I have this old-fashioned idea that we should listen to our educators – the teachers and the support professionals who are with our kids every day.”

RA2016-HRC_LEG
Hillary Clinton and NEA President Lily Eskelsen GarcÌa at the NEA Representative Assembly on July 5 (Scott Iskowitz/NEA)

Lifting up educators will be central to Clinton’s plans for public education if elected in November. In her RA speech on Tuesday, she announced plans to launch a national campaign to elevate the profession that will spotlight the importance of career-long professional development, higher salaries for teachers and education support professionals (“no educator should take on second and third jobs just to get by,” she told the delegates), and relief for crippling student debt. Clinton also said it was an outrage that Education Support Professionals continue to struggle to provide for their own families.“And supporting educators means supporting unions,” she continued. “Unions helped create the strongest middle class in the history of the world.

You’re not just fighting for your members. You’re fighting for your students, and families across the country.”

“We’ll work to close the ‘homework gap,’ so that students have the broadband access they need at school and at home. And we’ll use all the tools at our disposal, including technology, to give our children an education that meets the times we’re living in,” Clinton said.Supporting educators also requires a shift away from teaching to the test and a return to the original purpose of assessing students – to provide valuable information to teachers and parents to help their students and children truly learn. If less time is spent on test prep, then schools can devote more time and resources on “educating our children for the future, not the past,” which must be the focal point of student learning moving forward, Clinton said. And this means getting our schools up to speed on computer science and digital technologies, including greater access to broadband.

Focusing on 21st Century learning and strengthening the teacher profession can only get us so far, however, if we continue to ignore what goes on in students’ lives outside school walls. The scant attention paid to the devastating impact of poverty, Clinton said, is unsustainable.

“That’s on all of us. You see students coming to school hungry, or exhausted from a long night at a shelter. So many kids have the weight of the world on their little shoulders.”

Clinton championed community schools – public schools as community hubs, offering services and programs beyond the school day, and creating strong learning cultures

The bottom line, she said, is that every child in the United States should have access to all the resources available to wealthy children, whether it’s access to great teachers, extracurricular activities, or counseling services.

Unions helped create the strongest middle class in the history of the world. You’re not just fighting for your members. You’re fighting for your students, and families across the country.”

In her speech, Clinton proudly contrasted her vision for public schools with that of her expected opponent In November, Donald Trump. She derided the presumptive GOP nominee’s plan to eliminate the Department of Education and slash funding for critical programs – from pre-k to Pell Grants – that serve low-income students. “[Trump] has said that America spends too much on education. He would leave our most vulnerable students to fend for themselves. He shouldn’t have anything to do with our children’s education.”

Such an agenda dismantles public education’s historic and indispensable role in giving every child a chance to live up to his or her potential. We must do better, Clinton said.

“I feel passionately about this because I’m the product of great public schools – and great teachers…So let’s keep working for better schools, more resources, more support for educators.”

I’m asking you – and educators across the country – to work with me. Advise me, hold me accountable. And keep advocating for your students and profession.”

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2016 NEA Social Justice Award Winners: The Union City Educators – Ivan Viray Santos, Joe Ku’e Angeles, and Tina Bobadilla
http://educationvotes.nea.org/2016/06/30/2016-nea-social-justice-award-winners-union-city-educators-ivan-viray-santos-joe-kue-angeles-tina-bobadilla/
The Union City Educators team worked long and hard to bring the Filipino heritage into the schools of the New Haven School District in California—and they succeeded. What’s more, they were instrumental in getting a school named after Filipino labor leaders—the first public school in the U.S. to be named after Filipino American heroes.

The post 2016 NEA Social Justice Award Winners: The Union City Educators – Ivan Viray Santos, Joe Ku’e Angeles, and Tina Bobadilla appeared first on 2016 NEA Annual Meeting.

The Union City Educators team worked long and hard to bring the Filipino heritage into the schools of the New Haven School District in California—and they succeeded. What’s more, they were instrumental in getting a school named after Filipino labor leaders—the first public school in the U.S. to be named after Filipino American heroes.

The post 2016 NEA Social Justice Award Winners: The Union City Educators – Ivan Viray Santos, Joe Ku’e Angeles, and Tina Bobadilla appeared first on 2016 NEA Annual Meeting.

Thousands of Educators Mourn with Orlando
http://ra.nea.org/2016/07/04/thousands-educators-mourn-orlando/
It was hard to reconcile the emotions of thousands of educators gathered at this year’s NEA Representative Assembly. The July 4 meeting started with an explosive celebration. Classic hits from Prince and Michael Jackson blasted into the Washington Convention Center, and educators happily danced. But then, something happened. Lily Eskelsen García, president of the NEA, … Continued

The post Thousands of Educators Mourn with Orlando appeared first on 2016 NEA Annual Meeting.

It was hard to reconcile the emotions of thousands of educators gathered at this year’s NEA Representative Assembly. The July 4 meeting started with an explosive celebration. Classic hits from Prince and Michael Jackson blasted into the Washington Convention Center, and educators happily danced. But then, something happened.

Lily Eskelsen García, president of the NEA, said to 7,500 educators, “I don’t want to begin with tears, but I will not begin without this,” and 49 educators filed to the front of the stage with the images of the 49 people who died in the Pulse nightclub shootings in Orlando.

“Today, we mourn with Orlando. And we will not begin without honoring those who lost their lives for no other reason than that they were gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender,” she said.

Stephen Henry, a teacher from Nashville, Tenn., gave a heart-warming rendition of singer Cyndi Lauper’s 1986 hit song, True Colors. A slideshow of the fallen played on jumbo screens.

Nichole Devore, an educator from California read a poem from one of the survivors, who wrote about the “the guilt of surviving” while Frank Burger, a Michigan teacher encouraged delegates to find love despite the odds.

Delegates held a 49-second moment of silence for the 49 men and women, who celebrated Latino Night by dancing in a gay nightclub in Orlando, and were gunned down for being LGBTQ.

It was hard to find a dry eye in the assembly hall. Regina Johnson, a kindergarten teacher for nearly 20 years, sat in the back row of the Florida delegation, all of whom wore black T-shirts with a multi-colored heart and the hashtag “#orlandounited.”

“It’s sad because as [Lily] said ‘it’s senseless,’” says Johnson. “We’ve come a long way with acceptance of…race, color, gender, and religion. It’s surreal to me that hate is out there in such a level that we can’t agree to disagree—that we have to take such drastic measures.”

The Florida delegation came together to wear the T-Shirts to “support our brothers and sisters in the Orlando area and to show that we accept everyone, and we’re here together to hold hands, hug, and show love,” says Johnson.

In her remarks, Lily Eskelsen García explained of the tribute, “It’s fitting to start by acknowledging that there’s a real world out there, and it’s not a safe place. It’s dangerous, and the work we’ll do in this safe place is important, because it has the chance to change the world out there—that dangerous world needs us. It’s not a game.”

Despite the dangers, educators are not intimidated, as noted by last year’s decision to take on one of the most complex, divisive, and dangerous issues in the nation: Institutional Racism.

Now entering her third year as NEA president, she acknowledged that racism is a hard topic to discuss, “It sounds like we’re not being patriotic to say that it still exists. But it does. It exists in who gets pulled over…in who gets hired…in who goes to a public school that has everything a student needs to succeed and who doesn’t.”

Despite the somber tone, there were moments of inspiration as Eskelsen García talked about the trust placed on educators to advocate for students, colleagues, and the integrity of the education professions, as well as the long “moral arc of the universe,” that has hearts and minds bending toward justice. “But if our institutions—our policies, our programs, and practices—don’t change, then the oppressive conditions that people face will stay the same.”

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