NEA Directors Report — May 2011

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NEA Board of Directors – May 2011 – Washington, D.C.

NEA Directors attending:  Mike Orr, Gary Miller, Al Llorens, Kathi Griffin, Terrie Tudor, Jim Grimes, Eric Brown, and Katie Kreis.  Also attending NEA events were IEA Officers Ken Swanson, Bob Blade and Cinda Klickna.  Illinois Directors-elect Alex Wallace, Jr., Joyce Bailey, Tom Tully, and Vickie Mahrt observed the meetings.

NEA President – Dennis Van Roekel – Welcome and Overview. He also described  the International Education Summit that was attended by representatives of 15 countries. Van Roekel stated that none of the other countries are facing the types of “education reforms” being pushed in the United States.

Nominations for NEA Fund representative and Committee on New Business.

Reviewed action by the NEA Fund for Children and Public Education Political Action Council on their recommendation that the NEA RA recommend incumbent President Obama for re-election.  The proposal does not mean that NEA could not recommend a Republican candidate in the presidential primary.  Any viable Republican candidate who wants to take part in our process – seeking to secure a recommendation for action by the NEA RA – will be given the opportunity to do so.  The Board concurred with the recommendation, which goes before the NEA RA.

“Headline News” NEA Department Reports:

Affiliate Learning and Effectiveness – Dan Hand reported on UniServ Academy, UniServ Development, Cadre Training and Grants.

Collective Bargaining and Member Advocacy – Bill Raabe reported on NEA efforts on Pensions, Health Care, Bargaining, Salary, Alternative Compensation, Educators Employment Liability, Association Professional Liability, Fidelity Bond, and Unified Legal Service Program.

Research – Ron Henderson reported on Research Publications, Toolkit on Tax Loopholes, and the opening of the NEA Archive at Geo. Washington Univ.

Interactive Media – Leona Hiraoka reported on ClassroomSuperheroes.com, twitter.com/NEAToday, NEA.org/GreatIdeas, and EdVoices.com.

Information Technology Services – Janet Dade reported on department efforts in supporting the various priorities of NEA.

Secretary-Treasurer – Becky Pringle reported membership numbers and reviewed the impact on the budget.   The Secretary-Treasurer, reported that membership continues to drop, with a total loss this year of 30,345. Although 22 states have had a membership increase, 40 states have experienced a membership loss. However, some bright spots are: Student membership has increased by over 3200, Retired membership has increased by 9286, and Higher Education membership has increased by 2359. Pringle stated that the budget is still in good shape with 41.67% of the year remaining and 48.03% of the budget remaining.  Additionally, there is over $1.9 million remaining in contingency.

NEA Dues for 2011-12 Modified, to be voted on at the NEA RA:

Active – Certified        $ 168.00

Active – ESP                    96.50

Retired—Annual              25.00

Student                             15.00

Dues allocation to UniServ:  $ 31.00

Discussion and Action on the Modified Strategic Plan and Budget 2011

John Stocks, NEA Deputy Executive Director, set the stage for a discussion of adjustments to the NEA budget by describing some of the stories of our members who were affected by the assaults on public education and unions in Wisconsin and elsewhere. He described the current reality for public school employees and our union which includes attacks on collective bargaining rights, cuts in salaries, and loss of many thousands of jobs nationwide.  Becky Pringle, NEA Secretary-Treasurer, Lily Eskelsen, NEA Vice-President, and members of the Budget Committee presented the Modified Strategic Plan and Budget for 2011-2012. With an anticipated loss of members next year due to retirements, lay-offs, etc., and the average salaries of members nationwide not rising, the dues for ESP members will stay the same at $96.50 and certified dues will only go up $2 to $168.  The Priority Schools Campaign will be expanded to all states, even those that were not previously targeted. Goal areas directly affecting member advocacy and services will continue to receive approximately the same amounts, but the expenditures will be used more efficiently. Cuts are proposed to staff spending and governance, and by consolidating, shortening or eliminating some meetings.

Reports to the Board: 

2011 Representative Assembly in Chicago, IL. The Board received an update on the 2011 Representative Assembly. The theme for this year is “Standing Strong”. The program and activities are built around this theme of solidarity and member advocacy. One hotel, the Hyatt Regency Chicago, does not yet have a signed contract with their union staff, so the NEA is taking steps to possibly relocate the five states (including Illinois and a Joint Conference) that were scheduled to be in that hotel. RA Delegates will again be asked to “go green” by using technology in place of paper materials whenever possible.

Board Steering Committee, Al Llorens, Chair, reported on training and directions for the board at the Rep. Assembly.

Preliminary Results of the Resolutions Committee were presented.

Board Action Items:

The Board discussed the following items during the two-day meeting and voted to:

  • Approve the proposed NEA Legislative Program and recommend adoption to the NEA RA
  • Approve the nominations of the 2011 NEA RA Elections Committee, from Illinois Gaziur Rahman and Pearl Mack
  • Approve the recommendation to award the 2011 Friend of Education Award to the Wisconsin 14 (the 14 Democratic Senators who left the state in order to delay the adoption of laws that eliminated collective bargaining and cut funding to education)
  • Oppose Standing Rule Amendment 1A which would require a statement of intent in addition to the rationale
  • Oppose Standing Rule Amendment 2A which would require that a measure be tabled for at least two additional items if the chair requested that a proposed oral amendment be submitted in writing
  • Support Standing Rule Amendment 3A which would modify the resolution submission practice during the RA, to streamline the procedures for considering resolutions and to clarify that only amendments to new resolutions or to resolution amendments are in order after 12:00 noon on the second day of the RA
  • Approve the recommended UniServ grant of $37,048 per UniServ unit, with no rebate for this year
  • Approve the recommendation of the Executive Committee to adopt the proposed amendments to the policy statements for submission to the 2011 RA for consideration and action
  • Approve the Executive Committee recommended amendments to the guidelines for NEA Ballot Measures/Legislative Crises Fund 
  • Approve the Executive Committee’s recommendation to accept the 2010-2011 NEA Standing and Advisory Committee recommendations as presented
  • Elect Valerie Brown to serve on the Committee on New Business at the RA
  • Elect Dan Quinn to serve on the NEA Fund For Children & Public Education Council
  • Approve the amended guidelines for the Fund For Children & Public Education Council
  • Approve the proposed Policy Statement on Teacher Evaluation and Accountability and recommend it for adoption at the 2011 NEA RA.
  • Approve the proposed revisions to the 2011-2012 Strategic Plan and Budget
  • Support the action of the NEA Fund Council to recommend President Barack Obama for re-election in 2012 and recommend adoption at the 2011 NEA RA

Vice President – Lily Eskelsen reported activities involving partners, and advocates as well as critics.  She talked about NEA’s participation with the Creative Coalition that created a new movie entitled “That’s What I Am”.  It is a coming-of-age story which follows a 12-year-old, well-liked student who is put to the test when his English teacher pairs him up on a project with the school’s biggest outcast, forcing the student to face the bullies and teasing head on and learn the teacher’s final lesson: tolerance takes courage. Eskelsen also talked about depression as the silent illness, and often a silent killer. She also thanked the Board for all the love and support that she and her family received during their personal family tragedy.

Reports to the Board:  Internal Concerns Committee, Affirmative Action Report, Ballot Measure/ Legislative Crisis Fund, Standing and Advisory Committees, and Executive Committee Activities.

Friday evening – Reception at NEA Archives, George Washington University

Asian and Pacific Islander ObservationDaphne Kwok, Chair of the President Obama’s Advisory Committee on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, was the guest speaker for the API Observance. Kwok serves as the “eyes and ears” of the API community. Her message included:  The most recent US census has shown that Asian Americans are the fastest growing population in the US. Our demographics are changing rapidly. Nearly half the Western states are composed of a majority minority population. Unfortunately, our increasing multi-culturalism has spurred anti-immigrant/anti-minority feelings and legislation, and the proliferation of stereotypes. Having to battle stereotypes in 2011 is exactly why it’s so important for educators and parents to start teaching diversity in the early grades. No matter how well Asian students speak English, how long they’ve been in this country, or how much they assimilate, they are seen as perpetual foreigners, and therefore not real Americans. People from all backgrounds are what make America, America.

Board Breakout Discussions:  2012-14 Budget priorities.

Report:  Read Across America. Penni Cyr, NEA Board Idaho, & Greg Johnson, Executive Committee, Oklahoma, reported on the activities of the Read Across America Day, including the kick-off at the Library of Congress where First Lady Michelle Obama joined other celebrities in reading to over 300 children. Executive Committee members visited schools throughout the country. A total of 48 million people nationwide participated in RAA activities, and over 7,000 news items resulted. Twitter, blogs, and other websites advertised the many activities, and the RAA link is the most popular area on the NEA website. Next year’s RAA is scheduled for March 2, 2012. Budget cuts to the program in next year’s budget will eliminate the traditional RAA calendar and other printed materials.

Executive Director – John Wilson reported that NEA has assisted state affiliates in advertising their requests for contributions to their state Foundations to help those states that have endured natural disasters. If a state does not have a Foundation, donations can be made through the NEA Foundation. NEA has been very involved in the development of the new Common Core Standards for reading and math. NEA members and practitioners helped to develop and write the standards. To read the Common Core Standards that have been adopted by states, go to www.corestandards.org

2012-2014 Strategic Vision

John Stocks, Deputy Executive Director, set the stage for discussion of the 2012-2014 Strategic Plan & Budget by revisiting NEA’s Mission, Vision, and Core Values. Our Mission is to advocate for education professionals and to unite our members and the nation to fulfill the promise of public education to prepare every student to succeed in a diverse and interdependent world. Our Vision is a great public school for every student. Our Core Values are: Professionalism, Collective Action, Partnership, Equal Opportunity, A Just Society, and Democracy.

Becky Pringle, Co-Chair of the NEA Workgroup, reported on the proposed Policy Statement on Teacher Evaluation and Accountability.  The policy, which was developed by the NEA Workgroup on Educator Excellence, recommends that NEA call for the adoption of high quality teacher evaluation systems that provide regular, comprehensive, meaningful, and fair evaluations. In addition, it recommends that NEA both recognize the responsibility of all teachers to provide high quality instruction and call on school districts to provide teachers with the support, tools and working conditions they need to continuously enhance practice and tailor instructions. The policy recommends that NEA do so by adopting a broad policy framework for state and local reform efforts around evaluation and accountability, leaving to local collective bargaining or, where such bargaining is not available, state and local action, the specific choices about how to develop and implement teacher evaluation and accountability systems within that broad framework. The proposed policy statement calls for teachers to be evaluated based on the following three broad groups of indicators: indicators of teacher practice; indicators of teacher contribution and growth; and indicators of contribution to student learning and growth, which may include for the first time “valid, reliable, high quality standardized tests that provide meaningful information regarding student learning and growth” among other types of indicators.

General Counsel – Alice O’Brien reported on numerous lawsuits supporting affiliates in Alabama, Arizona, New York, Idaho, Indiana, New Hampshire, Ohio, Texas and other states.

The Board honored retiring Executive Director John Wilson and following adjournment a reception was held.

NEA Directors also participated in events including:

Social Security Fairness Task Force, UniServ Advisory Committee, Board Steering Committee, Education International briefing, Board Black Caucus, Midwest Region Caucus, Midwest Leadership Planning Conference Planning, Board Forum, Board Higher Education Committee, Member Benefits Board, and GLBT Caucus.

Directors and guests were also offered an opportunity to watch a showing of the film documentary “The Finland Phenomenon:  Inside the World’s Most Surprising School System” at the NEA headquarters.  Copies of other education related films were made available including:  “That’s What I Am”, a film staring Ed Harris, Chase Ellison and Amy Madigan about a teacher, singer and writer; and “In Plain Sight” a human rights education video.

Links– 

NEA Representative Assembly Information:   http://www.nea.org/grants/1357.htm

Legislative Action Center:   http://www.nea.org/home/LegislativeActionCenter.html

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