February Board of Directors meeting

February 10, 2017 by

agenda_-february-2017-read-across-america-pptThe Board of Directors met on February 10 – 11, 2017 in Washington, D.C.

NEA Directors attending: Joyce Bailey, Eric Brown, Gina Harris, Rainy Kaplan, Gladys Marquez, Loretta Ragsdell, Mary Ann Rivera, Mae Smith, Tom Tully, Kari Vanderjack, Alex Wallace and David Watts.

Report of the Executive Committee:


Ballot Measure Legislative Crisis Fund

The Board of Directors was asked to approved $10,000,000 be sequestered from the Ballot Measure/Legislative Crisis Fund for the sole use of affiliates to protect against state and federal legislative attacks. This will allow nimbleness and flexibility to respond to attacks as crises occur in states. The motion passed.

The Representative Assembly


The Executive Committee is making recommendations in order to advance the NEA mission and goals as well as to increase delegate engagement.  Each day will have a focus which will engage and inspire delegates to activate and advocate.

Day 1: Union Strength for Member Advocacy

Day 2: Union Strength for Social Justice

Day 3: Union Strength for Professional Practice

Day 4: Our NEA Mission


While we will continue to conduct the business of the organization and many of the speeches and awards have been truncated. The PAC Fund announcements and other typical RA activities will be moved to different spots and their formats may be changed.

There will also be a “hard stop” to the Representative Assembly. Delegates will know the exact time the RA will end on the final day.

Standing Rule Amendment proposals

Standing Rule Amendment 4: Strikes language that requires the Budget to be adopted after all of the New Business Items. This will allow flexibility in scheduling action on the Budget.

Standing Rule Amendment 5C: Requires that any changes to the Standing Rules have 50 signatures instead of the current 25 needed.

Both items will be submitted to the Representative Assembly.

Report of the NEA Committee on the Constitution, Bylaws and Rules

There are 3 Constitutional Amendments that have been proposed for consideration. These will require a 2/3 vote of the delegates.

CA 1: Confers automatic delegate status to the chair of the Resolutions Internal Editing Committee for all purposes except voting for officers. The Board opposed this amendment.

CA 2: Changes the frequency of the RA from every year to every other year beginning in 2022. The Board opposed this amendment

CA 3: Housekeeping item that deletes language that is no longer needed now that the executive officers’ elections are now on the same 3-year cycle. The Board supported this amendment.

There are 14 Standing Rule Amendments proposed, including the 2 mentioned above.  They require a majority vote.

SA 1: Extends the minimum time required for consideration of new business items at each business session to 90 minutes at the first session and to 2 hours at each subsequent meeting. The Board opposes this amendment.

SA 2: Strikes language allowing delegates to yield the unused portion of their allocated speaking time. No Board position taken.

SA 3: Amends the speaking order process to take one request for information at a time in rotation with speakers for and against a motion. No Board position taken.

SA 4: Requires the chair to ask delegates if they wish to close debate after 5 speakers for and 5 speakers against any motion. No Board position taken.

SA 5: Changes the language used to indicate opposition to a motion from “no” to “aye.” No Board position taken.

SA 6: Provides the maker of a motion to bundle and refer new business items one minute to explain the rationale for bundling. No Board position taken.

SA 7: Allows 1 minute of speaking time to each maker of new business items proposed for bundling as well as 1 minute for a delegate opposed to the bundling. No Board position taken.

SA 8: Automatically referes any new business item calling for a letter to be written by the president and an article written in the NEA Today. No Board position taken.

SA 9: Allows deferrment of consideration of a new business item if a majority of the maker’s state is not present due to voting. No Board position taken.

SA 10: Requires any vacancy on the Resolutions Committee in a slot held by an elected ethnic minority be filled by asn elected ethnic minority alternate member if available. No Board position taken.

SA 11: Strikes language providing that NEA policy statements supersede NEA Resolutions and that resolutions must be changed to conform to policy statements. No Board position taken.

SA 12: Prohibits the distribution, display or posting of any materials promoting passage or defeat of a Constitutional or Bylaw amendments at polling places. No Board position taken.

The Board will take positions on the 0ther 11 amendments at their Spring meeting.


Women’s Observance.


Dr. Erika K. Wilson, an assistant professor of law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was invited to share her expertise and insights on Social Justice Issues young women face in public schools.

Watch the video:

Here is the toolkit. final_nwlc_novo2016toolkit

Report of the Annual Meeting Review Committee


Items that were accepted:

NBI 70: To provide free childcare for the preconferences,  but with a committee amendment, childcare will be provided for preconferences based on pre-registration only.

NBI 110: To work with physically challenged individuals and their state affiliates to ensure that the NEA RA is accessible to all delegates.

The Board of Directors pulled NBI 96 from the report and amended it. The NEA will provide interview rooms/spaces for At-Large Board of Director candidates to be conducted prior to the RA. The Board amended this NBI to ask for one room available for a Meet and Greet space for all candidates at the adjourment of the first day’s session as well as on the regular candidate interview session day. The Board voted to approve.

In the 2020 – 2024 time periods, the Committee had to consider Dallas and Philadelphia for the RA locations.  Los Angeles cannot accomodate our needs during that time frame and is being removed from the future RA location list.

Proposed future RA locations:

2017: Boston

2018: Minneapolis

2019: Houston

2020: Atlanta

2021: Denver

2022: Dallas

2023: Orlando

2024: Philadelphia

Secretary-Treasurer Report                             image.jpeg  

Dues Modification: Based on an average teacher and ESP salary formula done by NEA Research.

Dues will increase by $2 for Full Time Certified and $1 for ESP members. Retired Annual dues will increase to $35 and Lifetime membership will be $250. This amount has not increased for 5 years and will remain in effect for 2 budget cycles.

Average Teacher salary is based on $59,019. Average ESP salary is based on $32,693.

Full time certified dues will be  $189 and ESP dues will be $115.50.

After a very lengthy discussion, Lily has agreed to put together a Task Force to take a look at ESP dues calculations and the data from which the calculations come.

We are in our 2nd year of membership growth. We have more members in every category this year. NEA has 34,171 additional members this year. The 2015-16 Final Year End Membership net increase of 15,942 the first time in 7 years we have had an increase in numbers. Princess thanks everyone who assisted in the One-on-One organizing efforts.

Vice President’s Report

Great Public Schools Fund has given over $25 million in grants to locals and state affiliates.  The Committee has proposed several changes to the guidelines and dates for submissions to make the application process more efficient.

Becky also presented the first report on Racial Justice in Education. The report will now be presented quarterly to the Board of Directors.


The Ed Justice website has many Racial Justice resources which include videos, readings and many other school climate resources. Please check it out.

NBI-D update: ESP continuum


A map of the Professional Growth Continuum for each job family with standards and levels of mastery.


Black Observance

In celebration of the opening of the new Smithsonian African-American History and Culture Museum,  Curator Mary Elliott spoke with the Board of Directors. The Board will be touring the Museum Saturday evening.


Please visit the museum’s website to explore the collection.

Legal Update

U.S. Supreme Court Nominee, Neal Gorsuch is a concern for NEA. There are 3 cases that he could impact our members this term. He will most likely serve for over 30 years and be very influencial on what our Democracy looks like. His Confirmation Hearing will be in March and the vote will come before Easter recess.

Trinity Lutheran: Decide future of state school voucher programs

Gloucester: Will decide validity of transgender student guidance by Obama Administration

Endrew: Will decide what level of educational benefit is required under IDEA.

There are many other concerns regarding potential attacks that might be coming from outside.

Read Across America

This year is March 2, 2017. The Committee has launched a new store to deliver all of your RAA needs.


Friend of Education

The Board of Directors voted to make Mr. Lavar Burton our Friend of Education for his work on Reading Rainbow.

UniServ Advisory Committee

Current grant amount $39,918

Projected grant amount for next year $39,250 a $664 decrease. The finalized amount will be given at the April meeting.

Charter Schools Task Force

A preliminary report that has reviewed our Policy Statement. The original policy statement was written in 2001 and at that time, charter schools were not widespread. Since 2001 the number of charters schools has tripled. 43 states have charter laws. Lily and Becky are co-chairing the Task Force. In April, the Board will get the proposed Policy Statement and will have a full hearing and debate. The Policy Statement will be submitted to the RA this July.

NBI-A update

The NEA shall implement an action plan to prevent acts of discrimination against LGBTQ members and students. NEA has been monitoring legislation, joining coalitions to support non-discrimination, partnering to find resources and will support and promote GLSEN’s Day of Silence. In addition NEA General Counsel is supporting legal challenges to enact state laws that discriminate.

NEA Foundation Awards Gala

On Friday night, Andrew Hirshman was honored at the NEA Gala as the IEA nominee. Congratulations Andy!




February 2017 Lobbying Report

February 10, 2017 by

Participating NEA Directors: Joyce Bailey, Gina Harris, Rainy Kaplan, Loretta Ragsdell, Mary Ann Rivera, Mae Smith, Tom Tully, Kari Vanderjack, Alex Wallace, David Watts as well as IEA Vice President Kathi Griffin, IEA Secretary-Treasurer Al Llorens and his grandson,  Caleb.

Congress Offices visited:

Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-3), Mike Quigley (D-5), Rep. Peter Roskam (R-6), Rep. Danny Davis (D-7), Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-8), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-9), Rep. Brad Schneider (R-10), Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-11), Rep. Mike Bost (R-12), Rep. Rodney Davis (R-13), Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-14), Rep. Darin LaHood (R-18), and Sen. Tammy Duckworth.

Lobbying Topics:

We had 2 topics to discuss with members of Congress and an additional item to discuss with Senator Duckworth.

Vouchers: NEA believes in a strong and inclusive public education system that ensures that all students can succeed. Vouchers, education savings accounts and tuition tax credits harm students, communities and undermine the public schools that educate 9 out of every 10 students. There is no valid evidence that such schemes improve the performance of either the students receiving them or those left behind in public schools.


Health Care/Medicaid: Congress should defeat efforts to slash Medicaid and Medicare under the guise of replacing the Affordable Health Care Act (ACA). More than 35 million children are covered by Medicaid and more than 57 million seiors and people with disabilities depend on Medicare for their health care coverage.



Supreme Court Nominee:

The Senate needs to perform its duty diligently and thoroughly vet President Trump’s nomionee for the Supreme Court: Judge Neil Gorsuch.


Board Report for September-October, 2016

October 9, 2016 by

The Board of Directors met on September 30 through October 1. On October 2nd there was a Board training on Institutional Racism.

NEA Directors and IEA Officers and members attending: Dan Argueta, Joyce Bailey, Eric Brown, Kathi Griffin, Gina Harris, Rainy Kaplan, Cinda Klickna,  Al Llorens, Gladys Marquez, Loretta Ragsdell, Mary Ann Rivera, Mae Smith, Tom Tully, Kari Vanderjack, Alex Wallace and David Watts.

Click here to download the newsletter.

Items discussed: Thank you to Doug Hill, Director from Michigan for writing several of these entries.

Ballot Measure Legislative Crisis Fund (BMLC)

The NEA Board of Directors approved the use of up to $5.9 million from the Ballot Measure Legislative Crisis Fund by three state affiliates who are battling key ballot initiatives in their respective states.

The Massachusetts Teachers Association requested up to $3 million to defeat a ballot measure that would lift the cap on charter schools and allow 12 new charters to be opened annually. “It is a cap that that has not yet been reached in the state, but our opponents wish to push it higher,” Massachusetts Director Tiffany Back told the Board. “We have learned our opponents have vowed to spend even more from this well-funded campaign to lift the cap. … Our polling has been very positive and our members are ready to do the work to defeat this.”

The Georgia Association of Educators requested up to $1.9 million to defeat a ballot proposal that would allow for the state takeover of “failing” schools. Further, the language would allow for a hand-picked political appointee, accountable only to the Governor, to oversee such schools. “The GAE is leading a coalition of like-minded groups,” Georgia Director Daniel Sobczak said. “Our TV ads are up and seem to be working. The media is using our language of “a takeover.” The polling numbers currently show 41% of the voters opposed to this and 39% supporting.”

The Oregon Education Association requested up to $1 million to increase the minimum corporate taxes with sales of over $25 million in state sales. “Fifty-eight students in a kindergarten classroom with a first year teacher,” asked Oregon Director Judy Harris. “One in four students do not graduate on time and one in 10 senior citizens live in poverty. Not surprisingly, Oregon is 50th in the nation in corporate taxes. … Our 45,000 members are fired up and coming together. … We are polling at over 60%.”

Ten dollars of members’ annual NEA dues are directed to the Ballot Measure Legislative Crisis Fund.  As of August 31, the BMLC fund’s balance was at a shade more than $44 million.

2017 Leadership Summit

The annual NEA National Leadership Summit is set for February 24-26, 2017, at the Hyatt Regency in Orlando.  As if to validate the type of leadership already occurring in school districts across the country, planners of the Summit reported that over 80% of the highest-ever 200-plus session proposal submissions are from NEA members. The total number of session proposals for this year exceeded all combined proposals from previous years. Attendance is expected to approach nearly 1,500 educators this year.

The 2017 Leadership Summit’s theme is Unite, Inspire, Lead: Our Students, Our Union, Our Future. Final planning continues, but once again there are expected to be exciting plenary sessions featuring highly regarded keynote speakers and NEA officers, along with over 120 breakout sessions aligned with NEA strategic goals and priorities.

The Leadership Summit continues to focus on all six NEA Leadership Competencies, 31 themes, and 93 leadership behaviors in the following domains:

  • Advocacy
  • Business
  • Communication
  • Governance and Leadership
  • Leading Our Professions
  • Organizing

For additional information on the 2017 Leadership Summit, visit www.nea.org/leadershipsummit or send an email to leadershipsummits@nea.org.


General Counsel Report    14479734_10209581771688390_7012195014892733402_n

NEA General Counsel Alice O’Brien reported the Supreme Court announced September 30 that it will take up two cases that concern schools.

In Endrew v. Douglas County School District, the court will take up an important special education issue. The Court will try to decide what level of educational benefit a school must provide to comply with the Individual with Disabilities Education Act. The law includes a mandate of a “free and appropriate public education” for every child, but figuring out what that means is tricky. The court will discuss whether “some” improvement meets the law, or whether there should be “meaningful opportunity” for special education students.

In Trinity Lutheran v. Pauley, the Court will tackle questions of whether public money can be spent on religious education. Specifically, it will consider whether a state constitution can draw stricter separation between church and state than the federal constitution. This decision could impact voucher litigation.

O’Brien also noted the Supreme Court currently has only eight justices. The refusal by the Senate to consider the appointment of Justice Merrick Garland for the past 199 days has created a “Constitutional crisis,” she said.

“The legislature has essentially shut down the judiciary, just by refusing to do their job,” O’Brien said. “Supreme Court rulings impact nearly every issue in your life.”

Secretary/Treasurer Report    

Secretary/Treasurer Princess Moss reported that membership is up by more than 17,000 members this year. She credited the new educator campaign, which focuses on engaging educators in the first years they begin working in schools. NEA’s membership total remains just slightly under 3 million members, but the increase has reversed a downward trend that had been going for the past six years.

The NEA fiscal year ended August 31, and an independent audit is underway.

Moss reported the budget is focused on NEA’s three strategic imperatives. She said that money is spent to “Invest in the Opportunities” like ESSA implementation and fighting against institutional racism; “Build the Capacity” with the new educator campaign; and “Defend the Union” against attacks in elections and legal and legislative threats.

Executive Director Report     14522764_10209581782288655_5581820711955104471_n

Executive Director John Stocks emphasized the work that NEA is doing to engage early career educators. “We want to better understand the professional support that they need to succeed, and it’s beyond the traditional wage, hour, and working conditions,” Stocks said.

Stocks gave the board four specific pieces of advice: “One, focus is essential. Leadership requires making tough choices. It’s a whole lot harder to say NO than to say YES. We know we cannot do everything we’d like to do. We have to start with what we must do. Two, progress can only happen if the NEA-state-local partnership is strong. With it, our power knows no bounds. Without it, we will not survive. Three, building a strong union requires us to bring our members closer to the union so that we can sustain all that comes at us. That requires us to listen deeply to them and understand who they are and what they want from their union. And we must be prepared to respond to what they say once we engage them. Four, even if we’re strong together, we cannot achieve our goals without building strong alliances with parent and community organizations, civil rights and other progressive groups, philanthropic partners, and political donors who share our yearning for a just and equitable society.”

VP Report   14463128_10209581771888395_5255943211282359586_n

Vice President Becky Pringle said she served on a panel with the Learning Policy Institute that studied teacher shortages. Not surprisingly, the panel found that attrition was the biggest factor impacting the shortage, and reducing attrition would make a greater difference than any other intervention.

Pringle said that report shows the “teacher penalty gap” has grown over the past 10 years which hurts teacher compensation. “It’s growing and getting worse,” she said. “We are looking at what we can do.”

ESSA Implementation

Executive Committee member Shelly Krajacic (WI) updated the board on the Every Student Succeeds Act implementation.  NEA members sent in almost 10,000 comments to the U.S. Department of Education this summer about ESSA.

Krajacic said that implementing ESSA is a “Herculean task if you think about all the changes we want to see for our public schools and the plans your states will write.” She encouraged state affiliates and locals to seek out parent partners and community allies.

NEA has created the website: www.getessaright.org to house all the documents that have been produced to assist states and locals with implementation. NEA will host ESSA webinars on Oct. 17 and Nov. 17 hosted by President Lily Eskelsen Garcia.

NBI C Report

In 2015, the NEA Representative Assembly called for an expert panel to study professional growth systems. Last month, the panel released the preliminary report highlights. The title is, “Great Teaching and Learning: Creating the Culture to Support Professional Excellence.”

The report concluded: “Continuous growth toward professional excellence for each teacher is essential if we hope to realize the vision that each student pursues and attains challenging goals for learning.”

But making that happen isn’t easy. The report noted that, “If leaders of a school(or district) becomes bureaucratic and controlling, it will inevitably show up in classrooms thatare less focused on authentic learning and more focused on test preparation, adherence to rules, etc.”

The antidote, the report notes is, “Learning should be the goal that permeates all decisions and actions in the school.” And decisions about professional development should be based on sound learning principles.

Excellence starts with finding and supporting quality teacher candidates. As such, the report calls for NEA and other groups who want to support quality education to help teachers at different phases of their careers.

The report divided teaching into: Aspiring Teachers (those considering enrolling in a teacher preparation program); Preparing Teachers (those in teaching preparation programs); Emerging Teachers (the first two years of teaching culminating with a demonstration of skills needed to receive full licensure); Professional Teachers (this can be an entire career with focus on continuous growth); Accomplished Teachers (those who have reached an outstanding level of performance); and Teacher Leaders (this happens when profession or accomplished teachers undertake to improve student learning by contributing to their school, district, or the larger profession). Within each phase of teaching, the report completely describes the dispositions of a quality teacher.

The panel was chaired by Executive Committee member Shelly Krajacic (WI). She noted that in the past there has been a failure to recognize that a great educator takes risks. “It’s not just acceptable (to take risks),” she said. “It’s expected. Taking on challenges to meet student learning needs is what great teachers do.”

The “keys to transformation,” according to the report, are that teachers should enthusiastically participate in meaningful growth and commit to performance-based assessment of their work. The system of teacher growth should be collaborative, but also support “individual autonomy” as a part of personal transformation.

Krajacic said, “Teachers want control over their profession, and they must have legitimate control.”

The full report will be available to members later this fall.

Board Observances

The Board celebrated two observances at this meeting. The first was the American Indian/Alaskan Native caucus and the 2nd was the Hispanic Caucus observance. The Hispanic observance included a powerful training on Institutional Racism.

14581415_10209581779008573_2965719081421890384_n  american-native-observance

14522854_10209581772528411_32112318817040856_n    hispanic-observance

In addition, an update on New Business items from the Representative Assembly was shared. nbi-update

September Lobbying Report, 2016

October 9, 2016 by

Participating NEA Directors: Joyce Bailey, Gina Harris Rainy Kaplan, Loretta Ragsdell, Mary Ann Rivera, Mae Smith, Tom Tully, Kari Vanderjack, Alex Wallace, David Watts as well as IEA Vice President Kathi Griffin, IEA Secretary-Treasurer Al Llorens, IEA Retired member Bob Kaplan and Schaumburg EA (Region 35) member Daniel Argueta

Congress Offices visited:

Rep. Bobby Rush (D-1), Rep. Robin Kelly (D-2), Mike Quigley (D-5), Rep. Peter Roskam (R-6), Rep. Danny Davis (D-7),  Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-8), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-9), Rep. Bob Dold (R-10), Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-11), Rep. Mike Bost (R-12),  Rep. Rodney Davis (R-13),  Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-14), (R-Darin LaHood (R-18), and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL).

Representative Dold met with our NEA Director personally, remaining in D.C. for an extra day to meet with us.


Issues Discussed:

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA): Our lobbying efforts were around keeping true to the bill that was passed and to discourage our members of Congress and the Senate to ignore the efforts of the Department of Education to go back to the draconian, punitive test-focused No Child Left Behind’s approach.


Education Funding: Although Congress passed a Continuing Resolution to keep the government open until December, our focus is on passing educational funding as well as the omnibus funding for all programs that will benefit our students and their families.


Supreme Court Vacancy: Our purpose here was to discuss with members of the Senate the importance of following their Constitutional mandate of filling the vacancy.



img_7738             img_7737

img_7727            14523110_10210592038816792_1685167561454734582_n       14516608_10210592043656913_7347671843971909413_n



July Board of Directors meetings

August 2, 2016 by

The Board of Directors met on July 1 and July 3 in Washington, D.C. at the Representative Assembly.

NEA Directors and IEA Officers: Joyce Bailey, Eric Brown, Kathi Griffin, Jim Grimes, Al Llorens, Rainy Kaplan, Cinda Klickna,  Gladys Marquez, Tom Tully, Kari Vanderjack, Alex Wallace and David Watts

Items discussed:

The Board elected

Kizzy Nicholas (PA) and Carol Bauer (VA) to the NEA Fund Board

Linda Estrada (TX) to the Member Benefits Board

David Watts (IL) and Tim Sheehan (MA) to the Internal Concerns Committee


An update on the New Educator Engagement, Recruitments and Supports Campaign was provided.

The Board approved the Strategic Plan and Budget to send to the Representative Assembly.


April/May Board of Directors meeting

May 9, 2016 by

School to Prison Pipeline

NEA’s Committee on Discipline and the School to Prison Pipeline met for nearly a year and came to a single conclusion: If America’s schools want to end institutional racism, it must start with ending the school to prison pipeline.

The committee released a 74-page report on this issue as well as a 4-page proposed Policy Statement at the NEA board meeting on Friday. The school to prison pipeline is the system of policies and procedures that push students out of schools and put them in direct contact with law enforcement.

Committee co-chair Kevin Gilbert punctuated the release by telling the story of his own 10-year-old son.

“It started with an incident over a mechanical pencil,” Gilbert said, standing at the podium in front of the 180 members of the NEA Board of Directors. “The teacher equated (my son) to a monster.”

Gilbert said he listened and couldn’t believe it. The school system that should have been a support mechanism had failed him. His son was suspended for two days.

“My son wasn’t getting support from his parents or from the school,” Gilbert said. “I sat there hurt. I felt like I was too busy being an educator and not a parent.”

Gilbert is a teacher and former school principal from Mississippi. His story brought the 74-page report to life, and put a face to the statistics.

Black students are suspended at a rate more than three times higher than white students. Latino and Native American students are also suspended at much higher rates. And if the minority students are ELL or disabled, the rates go higher.

LGBTQ students also suffer. Some 13-15 percent of youths in the juvenile justice system identify as LGBTQ even though they make up only 5-7 percent of the population.

“Unfair discipline practices and student pushout are part of the New Jim Crow and contribute to societal ills, including mass incarceration,” according to the report.

Although there is plenty of blame for American society to share in this problem, the committee did not shy away from shining a light on educators.

“As a result of the highly subjective nature of school discipline systems, suspension rates appear to be determined less by the actual behavior of students than by the attitudes and beliefs of teachers and administrators,” according to the report.

And even though it may be tempting to dismiss the high rate of discipline on poverty, the committee rejected that idea. “The shocking disparities in school discipline rates recounted at the outset of this report are not due to poverty or different rates of misbehavior,” they said.

The committee also provided its best answer as to where the over-discipline starts. Zero-tolerance policies lead to overuse of suspension and expulsion, they said. “The result of this national focus on ‘zero tolerance’ showed up in strict school discipline codes, which criminalize student behaviors that are still viewed as ‘children being children’ when perpetrated by white students,” according to the report.

Environment also plays a role. Increases in policing and surveillance, and even windows with bars, create “prison-like environments” within schools, the committee wrote. Schools have also increased referrals to law enforcement, and increased reliance on punitive high-stakes testing contributes to the pipeline.

“The actions that we take in our classrooms and our buildings may push kids out of schools and put them in direct contact with law enforcement,” Gilbert said.

America has nearly 50 million students and suspends over 3 million each year. Of those, more than 100,000 are expelled. And 95 percent of the suspensions and expulsions are for minor infractions, Gilbert said.

The 2015 Representative Assembly passed NBI B calling for NEA to make a concerted effort to end institutional racism. Gilbert, working with the 19 members of the committee along with support from NEA staff, spent the past nine months researching the school to prison pipeline.

Their report is available for all NEA members to read. They also have drafted a Policy Statement to be considered by the 2016 Representative Assembly. The Policy Statement would further define NEA’s position on the school to prison pipeline, as well as call for the association to do more to eliminate it.

The committee recommends five guiding principles that should drive NEA’s work in this area: “(1) Eliminating disparities in discipline practices, (2) Creating a supportive and nurturing school climate, (3) Professional training and development, (4) Partnerships and community engagement, and (5) Student and family engagement.”

NEA Executive Director John Stocks said, “This is the most important thing that we have embarked upon in a long, long time.”

Stocks told his personal story as an example of how he is focused on the issue. “Because I’m privileged and white, I have not been historically aware of institutional racism,” he said.

When Stocks began working for NEA as a government relations staffer in Wisconsin, he said that he felt like a “warrior” for NEA members.

“About three years in, the association wanted to pass a law that allowed any educator in the classroom to send a kid to the office for 24 hours and the principal could not put that student back,” Stocks said. “It haunts me to this day that the passage of that law may be contributing to the school to prison pipeline in a very real way.”

Clinton to Address RA Information

The 2016 NEA Representative Assembly is rapidly approaching, and many of the details are beginning to take shape.

Michael Edwards, the NEA’s senior director at the Center for Governance, informed the Board of Directors that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be in attendance to address the delegates. The date is unknown, but it will be sometime between July 4-7. When she attends, it will make good on the promise she made at the NEA Town Hall in October to be present for the RA.

In addition to that news, Edwards also shared that NEA will be commemorating the 50th anniversary of the merger between the NEA and American Teachers Association (a Black teachers organization). This will be the highlight of the afternoon’s festivities on the Fourth of July.  Due to this special event and planned festivities, the NEA choir will not be performing this year. The merger will also be a focal point at the July 3 Human and Civil Rights Awards Dinner.

PAC Council Endorsement

“Hill, Yes!”

That’s the message coming from the NEA PAC Council.

The Council requested the NEA Board of Directors support the Council’s recommendation of Hillary Clinton to the Representative Assembly delegates as the recommended candidate for President of the United States.

The Board concurred with the Council’s recommendation, which now moves to RA for its consideration during the annual meeting and convention of the NEA, July 4-7 in Washington, D.C.

“Our members, since the action of this Board last October (when the NEA Board voted to endorse Clinton in the Democratic primaries), have been enthusiastically involved in this campaign,” said NEA Vice-President Becky Pringle. “They’ve been out knocking on doors and making phone calls and do you know what, the (Clinton) campaign has taken notice. … They see our shirts wherever they go. They understand our members are reliable, enthusiastic voters.”

During debate on the item, there was a substitute motion to postpone action until the Board’s July 1 meeting. After much debate on this substitute motion, it was defeated by a voice vote. Discussion returned to the main motion, which quickly ended in another Board voice vote to concur.

Natha Anderson, NEA Director from Nevada and member of the NEA PAC Council, believed it was the correct decision of the Board to concur.

“Because of the timing (of our Primary endorsement) in October we were able to get our members involved,” she said. “We had our membership involvement increase by over 6,000 (from primary season in 2008).”

Anderson also noted: “Our language is in her policies. I’ve heard the same words (the NEA) says. … We are relevant in this campaign.”

There are now just under 190 days left until the November 8 general election. At the time of the Board vote, the pledged delegate count for Clinton stood at 1,662 and 519 super delegates. Her opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), had 1,373 pledged delegates and 41 super delegates. A total of 2,383 total delegates is required to secure the Democratic Party’s nomination.

ESP of the Year

Doreen McGuire-Grigg, an NEA Board Member from California, recalled her seminal moment as a union leader for her and her para-educator colleagues in the Lakeport Unified School District.

“It was 1992ish,” she remembered. “Our superintendent came in and said we had no say-so in what our health benefits were. The teachers did. He said the teachers had a union and we didn’t.”

“He organized us!” she grinned.

Don’t let her kid you — McGuire-Grigg may have had a little something to do with it as well. And it’s for this and several other reasons this 28-year para at Terrace Middle School was honored as the ESP of the Year at the NEA’s annual ESP Conference in Orlando, FL, on March 12.

“When it is necessary to advocate for our ESP constituents, Doreen is front and center steering the charge,” California Teachers Association President Eric Heins told the NEA Today. “She leads by example because she is always fully informed and her tone appropriate to the cause.”

As the ESP of the Year, McGuire-Grigg will spend the coming year traveling the country advocating for her ESP colleagues. It’s a challenge and opportunity she is eager to get started.

“I’m looking forward to talking to the people in the bus garages and the cafeterias and on the grounds,” she said. “I’m eager to find out from them what we all can do to help the whole student succeed in school.”

She added that one of her other primary goals is to continue to champion the cause for unionized employees and stave off privatization wherever it rears its ugly head.

“She will be representing us so very well throughout the year,” NEA Vice-President Becky Pringle told the Board at its April meeting. “Most especially the issues about our students and surrounding them with all they need to be successful.”

“We get up every day and the work is tough and we sometimes don’t get the respect we deserve, but go to work with our students because it’s where we belong,” said McGuire-Grigg, whose father was a long-time teacher and building principal in Lakeport. “We love to take care of our students.”

In addition to her year of advocacy on behalf of her fellow ESPs, McGuire-Grigg also received a $10,000 award and will deliver a keynote speech during the NEA’s Representative Assembly this July in Washington, D.C.

Teacher Hall of Fame Inductees

The latest class of inductees to The National Teachers Hall of Fame were unveiled and introduced to the NEA Board of Directors on April 29.

Collectively, the five inductees of the Class of 2016 have 148 years teaching experience in just about every area imaginable. The quintet is:

  • Kimberly Stewart Bearden, Atlanta, GA, 5th and 6th grade language arts: “Mrs. Bearden is so much more than a teacher. Or rather, she is exactly what a teacher should be,” said Ahjanae Colson, a former student. “She never clocks out, and she teaches us what it means to be a compassionate and intelligent woman who cares about everyone she encounters.”
  • Debra Hurst, Austin, TX, retired pre-K, Kdg, Inclusion, ESL Teacher: “(Debra) has a way of fostering warmth and the feeling of acceptance in her classroom community,” said colleague Stacey Necak. “She instills compassion in the children. Promoting empathy along with a love of learning, a strong sense of self, independence and curiosity – what more does a child need to succeed?”
  • June Teisan, Harper Woods, MI, retired 7th grade science: “Through June’s passion for hands-on, minds-on learning that is relevant, engaging, and utterly motivating, students not only live as scientists, but also see themselves as legitimate contributors who solve pressing environmental problems in the here and now,” said colleague Rick Joseph.
  • Wade Whitehead, Roanoke, VA, 5th grade: “Wade sets high expectations for his students and uses his teaching skills, his experience, and his imagination to help them achieve those goals,” said Principal Kathleen Tate.
  • Jennifer de Grassi Williams, Nampa, ID, retired pre-K through 12th grade art: “She is respected, dedicated, compassionate, creative, passionate, and loved by many,” said colleague Sarah Sessions. “Her impact on me, personally and professionally, and the thousands she has taught and mentored for 40 years, is colossal!”

“The 2016 inductees embody the best attributes of the teaching profession and are deeply committed to the success of their students,” NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia said. “They provide the stable, nurturing, inspiring environment that makes a difference in the lives of our students. … These five professionals have shown passion for their subject areas and strived to meet the needs of diverse learners.”

2016 marks the 25th anniversary of the National Teachers Hall of Fame. The Hall is located on the campus of Emporia State University in Emporia, KS. This year’s Hall of Fame induction celebration will commemorate these 25 years of existence and will involve as many of the past inductees as possible. It is scheduled for the week of June 6.

For more information about the National Teachers Hall of Fame – and how to nominate someone for induction consideration – please visit its website at www.nthf.org.

Teacher of the Year

NEA member Jahana Hayes, a high school history teacher at John F. Kennedy High School in Waterbury, CT, was named 2016 National Teacher of the Year by the Council of Chief School Officers.

The announcement came on “CBS This Morning,” April 28.

“Jahana Hayes is a shining example of the exceptional teachers who encourage their students to strive for their dreams and never give up, no matter what card they’ve been dealt,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García in the NEA Today. “On behalf of the National Education Association’s three million members — Jahana’s colleagues — we want to congratulate her on our profession’s most prestigious honor.”

One of those colleagues, John Horrigan, an NEA Board member from Westport, CT, was excited to hear another Connecticut educator had been chosen – the second time in the past eight years. Anthony J. Mullen, a special education teacher from the ARCHS School in Greenwich, CT, earned the honor in 2009.

“I know of Jahana, but do not know her personally,” Horrigan noted, “but from what I know, I believe she will do a strong job advocating for teachers around the country for the next year.”

Hayes, who is to be honored in a White House ceremony with President Barack Obama May 3 during Teacher Appreciation Week, will address the NEA during its Representative Assembly in Washington, D.C., July 4-7.

“Teachers exposed me to a different world by letting me borrow books to read at home and sharing stories about their college experiences,” Hayes told the NEA Today. “So many things that [teachers do] fall outside of traditional teaching responsibilities. It is those times when I am transformed into an advisor, counselor, confidant, and protector.”

Hayes will spend the next year traveling the nation to represent educators and advocate on behalf of public education. As a leading spokesperson for the teaching profession, she hopes to encourage more people to follow her path into the classroom.

One of her students thinks she will be fabulous in the role of education advocate. BlogCEA senior Makyle Hawk told his fellow students that Hayes being named National Teacher of the Year signifies the start of change long overdue. “Mrs. Hayes is sacrificing a year away from the things she loves the most to provide a voice for communities who have, for so long, been underrepresented.”

“Taking on this role of National Teacher of the Year, Mrs. Hayes represents herself, her family, her students, her school, and Waterbury. She carries us all on her back. In a way, she’s like the Greek Titan, Atlas, holding the weight of the world on her shoulders. But the world she bears is our world, and it’s the world of those in communities like ours, facing situations and issues that mirror our own.”

ESSA Implementation

It’s been nearly five months since President Barack Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act, and all of NEA’s 51 state affiliates are now engaged in implementing the new law.

While nobody misses No Child Left Behind, educators have a lot more work to do to make the new law live up to its promise of improving America’s education system.

“Implementation presents huge, huge opportunities,” said NEA Vice President Becky Pringle, as she described NEA’s work to support good implementation.

Members can get information about the new law and sign up to get regular updates at www.nea.org/ESSAbegins.

NEA has produced two dozen documents detailing the specifics within the law. But understanding every piece of the law isn’t easy.

“ESSA is 1,000 pages of ambiguity,” said Shelly Moore Krajacic, the NEA Executive Committee member in charge of the Association’s implementation efforts.

What is clear, though, is that the law provides educators a chance to participate in remaking education laws to fit their school, Krajacic said.

“I don’t want anyone to think that lack of understanding of the bill prevents them from being engaged in the process,” she said. “A site-based plan should be the goal of every school in the country.”

Even though the law is daunting in its size and scope, Krajacic urged members to dream big and start with a vision of what they want their schools to look like.

The law guarantees educators the chance to provide input on the law’s biggest components: Testing, Accountability, Standards, and Evaluations.

Krajacic said that members should focus on one thing in the law and become an expert, or create a team to engage together.

“There isn’t a single contract in the country that says that a group of second-grade teachers can’t sit down and create a plan for their school,” Krajacic said. “Don’t wait to be asked.”

LGBTQ Observance

Mara Keisling has been using the women’s bathroom for 20 years without incident, but she would be breaking the law in at least two states if she did that now because this choice doesn’t match her birth certificate.

As the Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equity, Keisling advocates for support for transgender people. But she’s not worried about her choices about using the bathroom. She is worried about transgender children and the discrimination that they are facing right now when they make that choice.

“They are the extraordinary kids who have had to do what most kids don’t. They have to look at themselves and think, ‘I might get hurt,’ ‘I might get killed,’ or ‘I might lose my job,’ ” Keisling said. Speaking to the NEA Board of Directors, she said, “Look for these kids and nurture these kids.”

Inside classrooms, Keisling said, educators can do a lot to help transgender students. “Be an educator about diversity, be an educator about transition,” she said “Think about how you react to it. Think about when you say boys over there and girls over there and you see that one kid twitch a little.”

NEA Vice President Becky Pringle pledged NEA’s support to fight against the discrimination that is emerging through state laws in North Carolina and Mississippi. Because of those bad laws, Pringle said, “That makes this the perfect time to celebrate … We must never allow the T in LGBTQ to be silent. The fight for transgender equality is our fight. It is our fight, NEA. And we will take up that fight.”

Keisling did her graduate work at Harvard University, and in 2005 she won the award for the Harvard Outstanding Person of the Year.

Keisling gave example after example of transgender students in schools across the country who have experienced discrimination. She spoke with Skye Thompson, a 15-year-old transgender student in North Carolina, who is worried every day he goes to school about whether he will be bullied when he uses the restroom.

Thompson wrote a letter to the governor of North Carolina. “By putting this law in place you’re putting kids like me in danger,” he wrote. But the governor wouldn’t meet with Thompson.

The state laws emerged in numerous states because lawmakers said bathroom use was an “emergency” issue. Keisling disagrees. She said there is already a system for this and calls it the “ruckus rule of bathroom use.” In this system, people use the restroom that will create the least amount of ruckus.

Keisling also noted that, “some people make a ruckus no matter where they use a restroom, but until we decide everything is gender neutral, there has to be an honor system about this.”

NEA has produced a guide to help educators work with transgender students, available on the edCommunities website, called the “Schools in Transition: A Guide for Supporting Transgender Students in K-12 Schools.”

Keisling wants the transgender movement to link with other social justice movements in America. “We believe we have an obligation to fight, and we believe that we have an obligation to win. But we believe we have to have a moral movement and an effective movement. We can’t have it if the movement is not anti-poverty, anti-racist, and a pro-worker movement.”

“We need to show up for you, and you need to show up for us,” Keisling said to the NEA Board.

Keisling has a quote on her office wall that gives her inspiration. The poet Audre Lorde wrote, “When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”

LGBTQ sidebar on NBI

The NEA board of directors took a stand against LGBTQ discrimination at its recent meeting by agreeing unanimously to a new business item that would increase efforts to fight against emerging state laws that legalize discrimination.

The passage of laws in North Carolina and Mississippi that forbid transgender people from using public bathrooms of their choice spurred the NEA board to draft language to bring to the Representative Assembly July 4-7.

The NBI calls for NEA to join legal challenges in states with such laws, step up pressure on the federal government to enforce Title IX protections, continue to raise awareness and distribute information that helps educators work with transgender children, and other efforts.

“We have to stop hate-sponsored state discrimination in this country,” said Kevin Gilbert, the NEA Executive Committee member who moved the NBI. “We have to stand up and say enough is enough.”

Educators on the NEA board shared stories of working with transgender students in schools. Tim Sheehan, a 4th grade teacher and board member from Massachusetts, spoke of the struggle of a girl that was obviously depressed as early as kindergarten. Over her seven years at the school, the staff met repeatedly with parents and shared strong concerns about suicide and self-harm.

“Over the course of middle school, this student made a transition,” Sheehan said. Thanks to the supportive schools, “He didn’t lose one friend in the process. … Now he’s in high school and volunteering. He’s now one of the happiest teenagers I’ve met in my life. It’s truly an amazing thing to see a child who is happy in his body and happy in the world.”

Washington board member Martha Patterson encouraged her colleagues to remember the role many educators play as parents. “I tell my children that I’m supporting their rights,” she said. “My daughter asked, ‘Why?’ and I said, ‘Because people do discriminate.’ ”

“As much as we can do to eliminate this, we must do it,” Patterson said.

API Observance

Imagine going to prison as a 16-year-old.

Now imagine the prison you are going to is the notorious San Quentin Maximum Security Prison in California.

Finally, imagine going to San Quentin as a 16-year-old (the youngest inmate there, ever!) having only been in this country for four years and having only minimal command of the English language.

That is the experience Eddy Zheng, the Asian and Pacific Islander Caucus’ guest speaker, shared as part of the API observance.

Incarcerated in San Quentin for 20 years, Zheng – sentenced to life in prison with the possibility for parole for home invasion, kidnapping, and robbery – emerged a much different man than the adolescent who entered the correctional system.

“Education saved my life in the prison system,” Zheng told the gathering. “Not because it was provided to me by the prison, but because my peers in there provided me with this learning.”

It was while earning his General Education Diploma (GED) and an associate’s degree in San Quentin that Zhang had an epiphany: “Why am I learning about everyone else’s history, but they’re not learning about my cultural history?”

Zheng said that when he pushed this issue, he was sent to solitary confinement for 11 months.

It was fitting, Zheng himself acknowledged, that he addressed the NEA Board only minutes after the Board voted to transmit a policy statement on the “School to Prison Pipeline” to the Representative Assembly for consideration this July. For, he noted, there is another sort of pipeline for immigrants such as himself: School to Prison to Deportation (due to 1996’s Illegal Immigration Reform & Immigration Responsibility Act).

“Immigrants are faced with a language barrier, cultural differences, and a generation gap,” he said. “We often times don’t find ourselves being nurtured and supported, and we fall into the pipeline.”

Zheng said this gap only widens in the prison population where immigrants such as him were lumped into the “other” category by fellow prisoners because he didn’t conform to one of the primary groups.

He admitted that for much of the time he was incarcerated, his family did not acknowledge his imprisonment to even his grandparents because of the shame it would bring the family.

“I was invisible in my own community,” Zheng said. “And then I became invisible in prison because I was part of the ‘other’.”

It is for these reasons Zheng, who emigrated to the U.S. from China as a 12-year-old with his parents, began to understand he would not be free physically until he was free mentally.

Zheng challenged the NEA’s membership before he stepped away from the dais.

“You are the defenders, the healers, and the saviors of generations to come,” he said. “The county and the future of America depends on you. But first we must be willing to engage in a personal revolution before we can embark on a collective revolution.”

NEA Vice-President Becky Pringle concurred: “Every new day is a new day for us to step up to our responsibility. Thank you for reminding us how important public education is in this country, and it is at the core of our Democracy.”

Zheng, whose story has been chronicled in the forthcoming documentary: Breathin’: The Eddy Zheng Story, was given a full pardon by California Gov. Jerry Brown last year.


With a nine-word decision in March, the United States Supreme Court ended the Friedrichs v. CTA case.

“The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided Court,” wrote the court on March 29. This decision preserves agency fee, or fair share, as a possible element of collective bargaining.

Although the decision was praised by NEA leaders, the Association’s General Counsel Alice O’Brien said that she expects that similar cases will reach the court in the future. She estimated there are at least 31 cases working their way through the court system.

The decision in Friedrichs does not set precedent, and future cases could be even more extreme than this case, O’Brien said.

The death of Justice Antonin Scalia remains an issue for the court because President Barrack Obama’s appointment of Merrick Garland to fill the seat has been blocked by Senate Republicans.

“We know that currently composed, the court seems reluctant to get into the issue again,” O’Brien said, noting the court declined to take up an agency fee case in April. “But that could change, depending on who is the ninth justice on the court.”

O’Brien noted that right-wing think tanks have hired many lawyers to litigate cases similar to Freidrichs, so she expects more cases.

“This is going to continue to be a hot area of litigation, no matter what happens with the ninth justice,” she said.

O’Brien said that Garland has impeccable credentials and integrity and noted that public opinion about the decision by Republicans to block the nomination are shifting. In February, 43 percent of Americans wanted Congress to “vote this year,” while 42 percent want to “leave vacant” the Supreme Court seat. In April, it shifted to 52 percent vote and 30 percent leave vacant.

NEA is working with 82 organizations to try to persuade Congress to hold confirmation hearings. Using the hashtag #DoYourJob, people are tweeting about the issue. A petition on the website edadvocacy.nea.org has already received more than 6,000 signatures. A group of social studies teachers from across the country wrote a letter to the two ranking party chairs in the Senate trying to persuade them to hold hearings.

O’Brien said the next President will likely have the chance to appoint anywhere from two to four justices. If that President is someone who is labor friendly, that could make a difference in cases about vouchers, affirmative action, campaign finance, and collective bargaining.

“This means that we could have, for the first time in my lifetime and all of your lifetimes, a Supreme Court that is receptive to workers’ rights,” O’Brien said.


NEA’s Representative Assembly will vote on 18 proposed changes to the NEA constitution, bylaws, and standing rules this summer in Washington, D.C. The board discussed each item and took positions on each.

Constitutional Amendment 1 would add the requirement that nearly every NEA committee include at least one certified support service provider. The board OPPOSES this amendment.

Constitutional Amendment 2 would add a two-year term for a student director on the NEA board. Currently, there are three student directors on the NEA board, and all three serve one-year terms. The board SUPPORTS this amendment.

Bylaw Amendment 1 would require approval of active member dues each year by a majority vote at the Representative Assembly. The board OPPOSES this amendment.

Bylaw Amendment 1A would change the way dues are allocated in merged local affiliates with 20,000 or more members. Right now, in non-merged states, the only local that this would affect is United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA). The bylaw would allow the dues allocation to be determined by the local’s merger agreement. The board SUPPORTS this amendment.

Bylaw Amendment 2 would prohibit secret ballot elections during Representative Assembly deliberation of new business. The board OPPOSES this amendment.

Bylaw Amendment 3 would add a definition of “certified support service provider” to NEA’s documents. This definition would include psychologists, therapists, counselors, and special educators. The board OPPOSES this amendment.

Standing Rule Amendment 1 would limit each delegate speaking on a motion to two minutes. The board SUPPORTS this amendment.

Standing Rule Amendment 2 would limit to one minute the amount of unused speaking time a delegate may yield to another delegate. The board OPPOSES this amendment.

Standing Rule Amendment 3 would amend the speaking order process to take one speaker for, one speaker against, and one request for information. The board OPPOSES this amendment.

Standing Rule Amendment 3A would require requests for information to be taken in turn: one speaker for, one against, and two requests for information. The board OPPOSES this amendment.

Standing Rule Amendment 3B would give the makers of a motion the chance to speak for one minute if their NBI was included as part of a motion to refer or bundle. The board took NO POSITION on this amendment.

Standing Rule Amendment 4 would strike language that was added last year to make debatable motions to suspend the rules. The board SUPPORTS this amendment.

Standing Rule Amendment 5 would allow publication of a contact person’s email address for proposed Representative Assembly actions, with express written consent from the contact person. The board SUPPORTS this amendment.

Standing Rule Amendment 6 would change the deadline for submission of new business items to no later than 5 p.m. on the first day of the Representative Assembly. The board OPPOSES this amendment.

Standing Rule Amendment 7 would require NBIs to have titles (no more than 10 words). The board OPPOSES this amendment.

Standing Rule Amendment 8 would require that NBIs only be accepted if they are written as action items. The board OPPOSES this amendment.

Standing Rule Amendment 9 would require that the cost of NBIs shall not exceed 35 percent of the budgeted contingency fund. NEA’s bylaws require that the contingency fund be no less than $1 million and no more than one percent of the budget. The amount spent at recent RA’s is as follows: 2010, $571,270; 2011, $90,754; 2012, $98,824; 2013, $196,849; 2014, $821,797; and 2015, $1.4 million. The board OPPOSES this amendment.

Standing Rule Amendment 10 would add to the definition of campaign materials and the rules governing them to include items promoting passage or defeat of Constitutional or Bylaw amendments. The board SUPPORTS this amendment.

Plan and Budget

At its April meeting, the NEA board recommended approval of a $365 million budget for 2016-18 to the Representative Assembly. The budget represents an increase of $7.6 million from the current year’s budget, thanks to an expected increase of 28,000 members.

Secretary-Treasurer Princess Moss said the Budget Committee had been challenged to think differently. “We’re putting a down payment on the future with this budget,” she said.

The budget includes a priority focus on ESSA implementation, as well as the ongoing work to end institutional racism.

To implement the new federal education law, NEA will identify professional practice leaders to fulfill the law’s promise of engaging educators and incorporating their suggestions and ideas as states and districts make important decisions about testing, accountability, evaluation, and standards.

NEA’s focus on institutional racism started at the 2015 RA, when a new business item on the topic passed unanimously. NEA’s conferences and trainings have addressed racism in deeper and more personal ways. NEA has also developed additional support documents and research to bolster efforts to end institutional racism.

NEA’s budget was built around two overriding goals: building strong affiliates and empowering educators for student success. Specific increases and decreases have been spelled out and will be available to RA delegates for consideration at the July meeting in Washington, D.C.

In addition, NEA is putting additional resources into engaging and assisting new career educators. Member surveys indicate that new educators want support from their union on how to become great at their jobs. The budget proposes spending $5.8 million on these efforts.

No major changes have been proposed in conferences and trainings, even though the focus on many events will shift to match the organization’s priorities.

Lobbying Topics

The NEA Board of Directors devoted the bulk of its Thursday to lobbying Congressional delegations on a variety of topics including: Child Nutrition Reauthorization, Career and Technical Education (CTE) Reauthorization (aka Perkins Act), Repeal of the Government Pension Offset (GPO)/Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), D.C. Private School Vouchers, and the Supreme Court Nomination.

“As we build our lobbying issues, we look at items that are student centered and what is topical,” said Mary Kusler, Director of NEA Government Relations Department. “Those are by far our number one drivers. We also look at what have been long-standing priorities for the NEA and what our committees and caucuses stand for.”

Kusler noted that for so long – 14 years to be exact – seeking reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act has been at the forefront of lobby topics. That changed with passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act in December.

This time around, members of both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate heard from Directors about CTE and GPO/WEP Repeal. The CTE Reauthorization would help ensure all students – particularly underserved students — have access to high-quality CTE programs, provide real career pathways, and include CTE educator voices at all levels of decision making. The GPO/WEP Repeal focuses on the Social Security Fairness Act (House Resolution 973), which the NEA strongly supports, calling for the repeal of both GPO/WEP that together deprive nearly 9 million hard-working Americans of the Social Security benefits they have earned.

In Senate offices, NEA Board members requested the senators to uphold their Constitutional responsibility and do their job by conducting a hearing and an up-and-down vote on President Barack Obama’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court: Merrick Garland, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Finally, House members were provided the NEA perspective on Child Nutrition and D.C. Private School Vouchers. One of the key talking points on nutrition was imploring the House Education and Workforce Committee to eliminate language from its bill that would cut up to 7,000 schools and 3.4 million students out of the Community Eligibility Program. This program provides free breakfast and lunch to entire schools that collectively meet certain requirements. The issue in our nation’s capital focuses on the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results (SOAR) Act which will allow public dollars to go to private schools without being subject to the federal civil rights laws that public schools must meet, such as discrimination based on gender, disability, religion, economic background, national origin, English language ability, academic record, or disciplinary history.

Website Improvements

The NEA has unveiled a new website to help members get engaged in politics.

The Legislative Action Center (located at: http://edadvocacy.nea.org/home) is a smooth, one-stop location to help members get the information they need about the most important political issues faced by students and schools. This website went live in April.

The top issue at the moment is the Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland. Members are urged to “Take Action Now” and sign a petition calling on Republican Senators to conduct hearings for Garland and take a confirmation vote. Some 6,000 members have already signed the petition.

The website includes tracking of current federal legislation, a congressional report card, and easy ways for members to contact their Congressional representatives. It also includes a specific section on ESSA with all of NEA’s documents about how to implement the law well, along with other appropriate links.

BM/LC Requests

The NEA Board of Directors took action on three separate requests for funds from the Ballot Measure/Legislative Crisis Fund.

The first request came from the Georgia Association of Educators in its attempt to thwart Gov. Nathan Deal’s constitutional amendment, which would implement a so-called “Opportunity School District.” If passed, a superintendent appointed by – and reporting only to – the governor would be able to take over up to 20 “chronically failing” schools per year.

The GAE request was for up to $1.5 million to be used by the GAE, which is working in conjunction with many other groups in Georgia to defeat this ballot proposal.

As NEA Executive Committee member George Sheridan (CA) noted in making the motion to approve the request, “This is the first vote of this sort in the country. It is our first opportunity to push back on the issue.”

Georgia NEA Director Daniel Sobczak echoed Sheridan’s thoughts: “We are really in crisis in Georgia. The ballot language in November is very misleading.”

The Maine Education Association sought up to $500,000 as it seeks to pass a 3-percent surcharge on households with income of $200,000 or more to be used for education funding. Estimates are showing this would impact about 2-percent of the Maine population.

MEA Director Mike Thurston noted how significant this would be for Maine’s educators if it passes: “This initiative has consumed the MEA for the past several months. When this passes it will generate $157 million the first year; it goes directly into classroom instruction as per the law. It’s currently polling around 65% favorable at the moment, but we know our governor plans on fighting it with everything he has.”

Another BM/LC Fund request came from the Oregon Education Association, seeking up to $2 million as it fights a pair of so-called “Right to Work” initiative petitions in its state. One, IP 62, would allow for freeloading as well as allowing non-union employees to run for union positions. The other, IP 69, would allow for different employment terms for union and non-union employees. A heavy push for support of this proposal is likely to come from many leading conservative factions both in and out of Oregon especially the timber industry.

Oregon Board member Reed Scott-Schwalbach believed the allocation is critical.

“When we support workers’ rights to use collective power to ensure that equity and justice prevail in the workplace, we create a better environment for students, their families, and the communities we live and work in,” she said. “Oregon is dedicated to this fight, and we deeply appreciate NEA’s help.  What we defeat in Oregon sends a message to those who would try similar measures in other states.”

All three requests were approved unanimously by the Board. With these allocated potential expenditures, the Ballot Measure/Legislative Crisis Fund balance stands at not less than $58 million.

Additionally, the Board approved an allocation of up to $5 million to the Behind the Wall team to pay for public communication and activities to support ballot measures in targeted states.

Becky Pringle Report

NEA Vice-President Becky Pringle highlighted a variety of initiatives during her report at the Board of Directors’ recent meeting.

Foremost on Pringle’s mind was the work of NEA’s Conference Alignment Team. The group is charged with providing the direction of the individual conference planning teams, as well as making sure the NEA’s agenda regarding Early Career Educators, Institutional Racism, and ESSA implementation are embedded in each.

“It’s not just about what happens here at NEA Headquarters, it has to be about the development of leaders in states, locals, and every level of this union,” Pringle told the Board. “It is extremely important that the work this team does impacts the work done at every level of this organization.”

To that end, Pringle was pleased to share the overall extremely positive reviews of the NEA’s Leadership Summit in Dallas, Feb. 24-26, which had over 1,500 attendees.

Pringle also highlighted the progress of the organization’s work on NBI B on Institutional Racism. To this point, most of the NEA’s work has surrounded awareness, including engagement/work sessions at the Leadership Summit, ESP Conference, and Higher Ed Conference. Moving forward, Pringle added, the NEA will partner with the group Race Forward (raceforward.org) for futher strategy and work development regarding Institutional Racism. A full report on the NEA’s progress regarding NBI B is forthcoming at the Representative Assembly, July 4-7 in Washington, D.C.

John Stocks Report


During his report to the NEA Board of Directors, Executive Director John Stocks laid out three focus priorities which he said must be achieved prior to the end of the 2016 calendar year.  They were:


  • Beginning full implementation of the 2016-18 Strategic Plan and Budget
  • Having success in the presidential election
  • Successfully moving the Senate to hold confirmation hearings and a vote on the next Supreme Court justice


“There is contemplated within the Strategic Plan and Budget us making a down payment on the future of our union,” Stocks said. “We recruit the brunt of our new members from July 15 to Nov. 15. Therefore we will set a goal of having a one-on-one conversation with every new hire who comes into any workplace environment. We want to ask them why they came into the profession and where they came from? … We want them to begin talking about their aspirations and enthusiasm for entering this profession. It is a very aspirational goal, we realize that.

“We must not go and sell new hires a membership but rather go and listen to new hires and invite them to join us.”

With regards to the presidential election, Stocks deadpanned to the Board: “I know I always say this is the most important election but I actually believe this one might be the most important election. As many as three justices may get appointed. The stakes are really high. If you are in a battleground state, you will be seriously engaged in this. And if you are located near (a battleground state) we need to figure out how to best get those members engaged in those battleground states.”

Stocks also touched on the important role NEA members are playing with the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act, as well as the work that continues regarding Institutional Racism and the School to Prison Pipeline.

“We have to own some of that; we are in that system,” said Stocks regarding the School to Prison Pipeline, sharing a moving story from his time as a government affairs staffer with the Wisconsin Education Association Council and legislation he helped get passed that allowed teachers to remove students from classrooms without cause for 24 hours. “That haunts me to this day, that because of me, our members may have contributed to this pipeline.”


April, 2016 Lobbying Report

April 30, 2016 by

Participating NEA Directors: Joyce Bailey, Jim Grimes,  Kari Vanderjack, Tom Tully, Alex Wallace, David Watts

IEA Officers: Al Llorens

Members of Congress visited:

Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-3), Rep. Mike Quigley (D-5), Rep. Danny Davis, (D-7), Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-8), Rep. Janice Schakowky (D-9), Rep. Bob Dold, (R-10), Mike Bost (R-12), Rep. Rodney Davis (R-13),   Rep. Darin LaHood, (R-18), and both Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL).

david and kari.jpg                          d and k.jpg


Topics discussed with members and staff:

Child Nutrition: Asking our Member to oppose efforts to make it harder to qualify for community eligibility in order to allow schools in high poverty areas to offer breakfast and lunch at no cost to children.

LOBBYING_Child Nutrition Reauthorization one-pager_April 2016

Career and Technical Education Re-authorization: Asking for support to ensure that CTE educators are involved in all levels of decision making for these programs.

LOBBYING_Career and Technical Education Reauthorization_April 2016

Repeal of Government Pension Offset (GPO)/Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP): Asking for support and co-sponsorship to fully repeal GPO/WEP. H.R. 973

LOBBYING_Government Pension Offset and Windfall Elimination Provision_April 2016

DC private school vouchers: Asking for opposition to HR 4901, a voucher bill.

LOBBYING_SOAR – DC Private School Voucher Program_April 2016

Supreme Court Nomination: Asking our Senators to support the Constitution and hold a hearing.

LOBBYING_Supreme Court Vacancy_April 2016




February Board of Directors meeting

February 19, 2016 by

NEA Directors and IEA Officers and members attending: Joyce Bailey, Eric Brown, Kathi Griffin, Jim Grimes, Al Llorens, Rainy Kaplan, Cinda Klickna,  Gladys Marquez, Kari Vanderjack, Alex Wallace and David Watts

The Board started with a moment of silence for those we have lost since the October meeting.

Items Discussed:

Thank you to Alaska NEA Director Tim Parker and Doug Hill from Michigan for putting together a newsletter that can be shared with members. NEADirectorsReport–Feb2016Illinois

ESSA implementation. Executive Committee member Shelly Moore Krajacic will be taking the lead on this. There is a tool kit on line for members. Additional information and materials will be posted on the NEA website at http://www.nea.org/essabegins. The Board authorized up to $5 million (from the Ballot measure Crisis Fund) to be used to assist in ESSA implementation.

ESP’s will be honored at the White House for the first time. President Obama will be honoring 10 ESP job categories on May 11.

The Board heard a report for NEA Board member Eric Minore, from Flint, Michigan on the conditions and situation there. Information and donations can be found at FlintKids.org.

The Board took action on several Constitution, Bylaw and Standing Rule Amendments. Items may still be submitted until March 4. The remainder will be acted on at the May Board meeting.

Consitutional Amendment 1: Mandates Certificated Support Service Providers to serve on Committees. Board opposed.

Constitutional Amendment 2: Changes Student Directors terms. Board supported.

Bylaw Amendment 1: Has the RA approving dues increases. Board opposed.

Bylaw Amendment 2: Changes voting schedule at the RA. Board opposed.

Bylaw Amendment 3: Defines Certificated Support Service Provider. Board opposed.

Standing Rule Amendment 1: Reduces speaking time at RA to 2 minutes for all speakers. Board supported.

Standing Rule Amendment 2: Reduces speaking time if microphone is yielded to 1 minute. Board opposed.

Standing Rule Amendment 3: Requests for Information go into the rotation with for and against speakers. Board took no position.

Standing Rule Amendment 4: Changes the debating ability on motions to suspend the rules. Board supported.

Standing Rule Amendment 5: Allows for the publication of e-mail addresses for makers of business items. Board supported.

Standing Rule Amendment 6: Changes the deadline for submission of NBI’s. Board opposed.

Standing Rule Amendments 7 – 10: No action taken.

AGENDA_Con Bylaws Rules_Tracking Chart_February 2016AGENDA_Proposed Amendments to NEA Standing Rules Constitution Bylaws_February 2016

In addition, the Executive Committee is working on a new Policy Statement for this summer’s RA on School Discipline and School to Prison Pipeline.

The Board celebrated 2 observances:

Women’s Observance: Anna Jones an advocated for children and equity of education led the Dyett HS Hunger Strike. Anna Jones_Biography_Womens Observance_February 2016

Black Observance: Dr. Lenworth Gunther led the Board in a engagement session around NBI B: Institutional Racism. Dr. Lenworth Gunther

The Board approved the dues levels for the next two years. For the 2016-17 Budget year: Full time dues will be $187 and ESP dues will be $113.50 ($2 increase). For the 2017-18 Budget year: Full time dues will be $188 and ESP dues will be $114.50 ($1 increase in both categories). Both formulas are based on average salaries. The average teacher salary used was $58,064 and the average ESP salary used was $32,032. AGENDA_Dues 2016-2018_February 2016

The Board took action regarding action to be taken at this year’s Leadership Summit in Houston. AGENDA_Board_Proposed Action Item_Advancing Equality in Houston_February 2016

Many of our directors also attended the Gala to honor our nominee. IMG_1685

February Lobbying Report

February 19, 2016 by

Participating NEA Directors: Joyce Bailey, Jim Grimes, Rainy Kaplan,  Kari Vanderjack, Alex Wallace, David Watts;

IEA Officers: Kathi Griffin and Al Llorens

IEA members: Amy Biancheri and Bob Kaplan.

Members of Congress visited:

Rep. Bobby Rush (D-1),  Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-3), Rep. Mike Quigley (D-5) Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-9), Rep. Bob Dold (R-10), Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-11),  Rep. Rodney Davis (R-13),  Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-14), Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-17),  Rep. Darin LaHood, (R-18), and both Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL).

Topics discussed with members and staff:

We thanked all for the Re-authorization of ESSA. Every Illinois Congressman and Senator voted in favor of the re-authorization. Educators-Spoke-Congress-Listened-0216

Child Nutrition Re-authorization: We asked to maintain the nutrition standards, training for school food professionals, providing adequate equipment and infrastructure as well as strengthening out-of-school meal programs. LOBBYING_Leave-Behind_Child Nutrition Reauthorization_February 2016

Education Funding: We asked for a larger increase in Labor-HHS Education Appropriations. LOBBYING_Leave-Behind_Education Funding_February 2016

Student Loans: We asked to allow student loans to be re-financed. LOBBYING_Leave-Behind_Student Loan Refinancing_February 2016



December Virtual Meeting

December 30, 2015 by

December 9, 2015

On the call: Joyce Bailey, Eric Brown, Kathi Griffin, Jim Grimes, Rainy Kaplan, Tom Tully, Alex Wallace, David Watts

Items discussed:

Lily reported on her first Education International meeting in Brussels.

Lily reported that Hillary Clinton is building a substantial campaign, especially after her testimony before the Senate. She has opened numerous offices, hired many new staffers and has the support of 44 US Senators, 160 Congressmen, 14 Governors as well as the endorsement of SEIU, AFT and AFSCME.

Lily reported on the ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) progress. The Senate will be voting on December 10th and the President will sign later in the  week. Most decisions for the new Act will be made at the State levels. NEA will begin hosting weekly calls beginning January 12th to provide information and updates. Also, there will be additional information posted on the NEA website.

Becky Pringle reported on the Leadership Summit which will be held in February. There will be 128 break out sessions. Registration is now open. The 2017 Summit will be in Orlando.

Becky also updated the Board on NBI B, Institutional Racism. The Board will have a 2 hour session at the February meeting.

Princess Moss updated that the Audit report gave NEA a clean, unqualified opinion., the highest rating that an organization can receive.

The Board then received an update on the Friedrichs court case’s potential impact. Princess reported that this next budget will not include $6 million in Fair Share fees as a precaution. There are approximately 75,000 fee payers.

The NEA Partnership report will be posted on the website in response to NBI’s 47 and 54.

The virtual meeting lasted one hour.