NEA Board Report — Sept./Oct. 2010


NEA Board Meeting Sept. 30 – Oct. 2, 2010, Washington, D.C.

Illinois Directors Activities

  • Senior Director Mike Orr coordinated assignments for the Illinois NEA Directors
  • All Directors, including Student NEA Board member Katie Kreis participated

in various Capitol Hill and Government Visits

o      See the Lobbying Report Sept. 30, 2010

  • Kathi Griffin, Jim Grimes and Gary Miller attended the Board Higher Ed meeting
  • Mike Orr attended the Social Security Fairness Task Force meeting
  • Al Llorens and Eric Brown attended the Black Caucus meeting
  • Eric Brown attended Great Lakes Center press event on Bullying and Harassment
  • Al Llorens and Kathi Griffin attended Great Lakes Center release on The Obama Education Blueprint: Researchers Examine the Evidence
  • Terrie Tudor attended the Planning Committee for the Midwest Leadership Conference
  • Directors and Officers attended the Midwest Regional Caucus
  • Directors attended the One Nation March at the Capitol Mall on Oct. 2
  • Jim Grimes and Gary Miller attended the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P-21) National Summit and P-21 Meetings, Oct. 4-5, 2010

o      See the P-21 Summit Report

President’s Report – Dennis Van Roekel


President Van Roekel took time to honor several NEA members who have recently passed away, and paid tribute to the late Steven Knipp from Illinois, who had been serving as NEA Director and Chair of the Native American/Alaska Native Caucus.


Van Roekel mentioned that the NEA has established working relationships not only with the Department of Education, but also with other federal departments. He expressed the belief that NEA will have a good year working with the current administration.


NEA Committee on Program and Budget—Nominations/Election of two board members.

ESEA Reauthorization—Discussed specific policies which NEA supports, and NEA’s strategy for shaping any reauthorization by Congress.  Donna Harris-Aikens, Director of Education Policy & Practice, reported on NEA’s opposition to the Administrations “Blueprint for Reform.”

Kim Anderson, Director of Government Relations, said that nothing will happen legislatively until the next Congress. The “Blueprint” will be the starting point, but NEA will push their changes and use the results of the NEA Priority Schools Program as the alternative to the three turn-around models in the Blueprint. NEA will also be pushing for formula-driven funding, as opposed to competitive grants. Just as with the recent passage of the Jobs Bill, NEA members nationwide will be an integral part of eventually passing acceptable legislation for the ESEA.


Campaigns and Elections—NEA staff, urged all members to log onto NEA’s Campaign 2010 website,  Sean Johnson, NEA staff, reviewed the political landscape, expectations for the upcoming elections, and NEA’s activities throughout the country in helping to elect NEA recommended candidates. NEA and state affiliates are very active in over 70 Congressional Districts and 20 Senate races nationwide. Johnson urged all Board members and NEA members to be active participants in the upcoming elections. He stated that we can make a huge difference in the outcome of the elections and that it is critical to keep our “friends” in office, especially for the reauthorization of ESEA.


Membership and Organizing—NEA staff, reported on the various organizing projects throughout the state affiliates. The NMS Task Force recommendations focus on growth and building a culture of organizing; targeted, integrated campaigns; new markets, mergers and affiliations; growing constituency groups; AR infrastructure development; use of data and technology; and interim and crisis assistance for affiliates.

Strategic Discussions by Board Members:

1) NEA Constitutional Amendment—required percent of certified teachers required on NEA committees is currently 75%; proposal would make this more flexible, i.e.: 50-75%;

2) Political Action Committee Presidential Recommendation Procedures;

3) Debriefed the 1020 RA in New Orleans, what worked, what did not work.

It was during this debriefing that we brought up concerns about the way NBI’s are budgeted and the concerns regarding action on Resolutions.  The number of repetitive NBI, Legislative Amendments and Bylaw Amendments was also discussed.


NEA’s Priority Schools Presentation—explained the timeline, locations and proposals.

Priority Schools is NEA’s approach to improving struggling schools.

Observances for American Indian/Native American Caucus, GLBT Caucus, Jobs Bill, and the Great Lakes Center.

Sirdeaner L. Walker, guest speaker during the GLBT Observance, has become a leading spokesperson for the Safe Schools Improvement Act, which would protect all students from bullying and harassment. Sirdeaner’s eleven-year-old son, Carl, committed suicide after experiencing bullying and harassment at school. Even though she reported the problem to school officials and tried to seek help from them, nothing was done to alleviate the situation and eventually led to her son’s suicide. Following the death, she began working with GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight, Education Network) to seek legislation that would address the rising tide of bullying and harassment. She stated that bullying is not a race, gender, or gay issue. It is a safety issue for all students.


Debbie Hogue Downing, Chair of the Native American/Alaska Native Caucus, introduced the keynote speaker, Tim Tingle, author of children’s books of his native Choctaw stories, recognized speaker, and representative of the Native American Smithsonian Institute. He emphasized the importance of reading in raising achievement levels of all students. He recommended a website by Debbie Reese for information on materials for those who want to learn more about Native Americans, and a book by Paul Chaat Smith, Everything You Know About Indians Is Wrong, as a good starting point. He thanked educators and the NEA for leading the way to better understanding and acceptance of all.

Executive Director, General Council and Internal Concerns Committee Reports.

Education International 6th World Congress – July 18-21, 2011, Cape Town, South Africa

15 of 50 Delegates to the Congress will be selected according to NEA Board policy.  The NEA President appoints the delegates.  Any members interested can contract an NEA Board member for additional information.


NEA Committee Appointments – Illinois Members


Advisory Committee of Student Members—Michael Ruggless

Membership Advisory – Frank Brooks

Social Security Fairness – Gary Miller

Internal Board, Friend of Education – Kathi Griffin

UniServ Advisory – Al Llorens

Health Information Network Board of Directors – Eric Brown

NEA Retired Advisory Council – Gene Craig

Elementary and Secondary Education Act – Ken Swanson

Member Benefits Board of Directors – Kathi Griffin


Executive Committee Actions and Report

The Executive Committee presented the following items which were approved by Board action:

Washington Education Assn. Fund Request,

2010 RA News Business Items Funding,

Donna Mirabelli Named At-Large Administrator Board Member,

Reviewed Audit Committee Guidelines,

Approved Dues Requests,

Local Association Affiliations,

Restatement of NEA & Affiliate Retiree Health Plan.

Vice President’s Report – Lily Eskelsen

Vice Pres. Eskelsen continues her conversations with Educational Groups, Allies and Critics.  She reported on her activities revolving around ESP and Higher Education organizing and exploring school reform which included attending an Education International Conference in Canada, a Higher Education Conference, and a trip to Honduras for the NEA Foundation. She emphasized the implications of the Honduras project for NEA’s Priority Schools Program, which strives to transform schools in poverty areas to high achieving schools. She continues to meet those who would normally not be considered our “friends”, such as Rick Hess, recognized advocate for charter schools and outspoken critic of public schools. Lily emphasized that we can always learn from our discussions with those who disagree with us, and can even find common ground at times.

Secretary-Treasurer’s Report – Becky Pringle

Sec-Treas. Pringle reported that NEA has lost 34,000 Active members, for a 1.4% decrease, and 507 ESP members for a .1% decrease. Student membership reached a new high with a 6.7% increase, and Retired increased 5,312 to 261,770 for a 2.1% increase. Financially, all departments are completing their 2009-2010 year end wrap up and preparing for the yearly audit. There is $1.9 million left in the Contingency Fund after the expenditures that the Board approved at this meeting. Pringle also reported that NEA has paid off the NEA Building. Because of economic circumstances nationwide, NEA is exercising fiduciary caution and responsibility by finding ways to reduce the budget without hurting programs. Pringle described the tasks of the new NEA Commission on Effective Teaching and the expected outcomes.

Following Adjournment, Directors attended the One Nation—Working Together March

Oct. 2nd, Capitol Mall, Washington, D.C.




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