NEA Directors Report — December 2010

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Illinois NEA Directors’ Activities—

Mike Orr—Senior Director, coordinated assignments for the Illinois Directors; Social Security Fairness Task Force; Midwest Planning Cmte.

Gary Miller—Social Security Fairness Task Force

Al Llorens—UniServ Advisory Cmte.; Board Black Caucus Meetings; Midwest Regional Planning Meeting; met with President and General Counsel on a member concern; Board Forum; Read Across America with National Federation for the Blind

Kathi Griffin—Member Benefits Board; Friend of Education Cmte.; Board Forum

Terrie Tudor—Midwest Regional Planning Cmte.; NEAFCPE Planning

Jim Grimes—Board Higher Education Cmte.; Education International Higher Education Briefing

Eric Brown—Health Information Network Board, Board Black Caucus, IEA’s Indoor Air Quality Committee—arrange a meeting in Jan. for Amy Courson-Brock, IEA-IAQ, with Congressman Mike Quigley (IL-5th)

Katie Kreis–NEA Student Director—Student Caucus

Several Directors attended the U.S. Army Holiday Concert Saturday evening at Constitution Hall.

All Directors participated in meetings on Capitol Hill.  See Lobbying Report.

President Dennis Van Roekel’s Report—

The NEA’s National Campaign Team will continue to function with an emphasis on ESEA reauthorization and countering attacks on state affiliates.  NEA will focus on our message and communication to combat those who wish to destroy public education.  The Association will also focus on building member participation by encouraging visits to:  http://www.educationvotes.nea.org and NEA.org.

Pres. Van Roekel reported on the post election landscape for NEA. On the positive side, NEA was successful in three out of the five key races, and a handful of critical House races. And, thousands of NEA members were actively engaged in races nationwide.Kim Anderson, Director of GR, reported that we lost 680 pro-public education seats in state legislatures, the biggest shift since 1928.  State affiliates will be facing many challenges in the next few years that will revolve around: budget deficits and cuts to education funding; attacks on pension funds; repeal of previous education wins; anti-union attacks that include repeal of collective bargaining and elimination of payroll deduction of dues; and teacher reform policy proposals; and attacks on public education that are being driven by those outside of the education community.

John Stocks, NEA Assistant Executive Director, reported on how NEA is planning to address all of these issues and how they can assist state affiliates to counter the attacks at the state level through our National Campaign Team. The goals of this campaign are:  to advance the NEA Mission and Vision; to strengthen affiliates and counter the anti-union attacks; to achieve public policy that enhances public education and better supports teaching and learning; to reposition the NEA as the leader in the transformation of public schools through the reauthorization of ESEA.  All of this will be done in cooperation with state affiliates and extensive member input, because the fight will be at the state level. The emphasis will be on protecting membership rights. Because of limited resources, NEA will be targeting specific states as battlegrounds to set the groundwork for helping all states.

Sheila Simmons, Director of the Priority Schools Campaign, reported on the progress being made to reach collaborating on innovative programs to measure student success and teacher quality, as well as attracting and keeping the best educators and resources for the schools of greatest need. This six-year campaign is research and evidenced based. Schools in targeted states selected by NEA represent 40% of 1037 schools nationwide that qualify for national School Improvement Grants and are predominantly secondary. Eighty-five percent of the students served by this program are receiving free or reduced lunch and are predominantly minority students located in urban schools.

Vice President Lily Eskelsen’s Report—

Eskelsen represented NEA and all public school employees, where she countered proponents of vouchers, charter schools, and anti-union sentiments. Eskelsen also detailed plans for the NEA Academy to serve as a clearinghouse of the highest quality, on-line professional development to be made available at a discount to members. NEA has a content quality review board who use objective criteria to evaluate each course. In Continuing Education areas, NEA Academy has 12 providers and over 50 courses, with graduate credit available. Berlitz foreign language classes that normally cost $990 are offered to members at a cost of $299. Master Degree programs offer NEA members 5-20% discounts on normal cost, and NEA even offers member scholarships.  She reviewed the process used in choosing participating institutions.  And, the Vice President reported that NEA is reviewing its policies on the use of private and for profit institutions in the Academy.

Secretary Treasurer Becky Pringle, NEA Secretary Treasurer’s Report—

Although NEA has taken steps to economize, become more efficient, change the way it does business, and anticipated a membership loss, the losses have been even greater than expected this year and appear as though they will increase next year. Plus, the projected increase in average teacher salary will be less than anticipated, resulting in a proposed $2 dues increase instead of the previously proposed $4 increase for the second year of the budget. Subsequently, there is significantly less revenue than anticipated for this year and next which will require a major restructuring of the two-year budget. There has been a loss of 39,000 members for active certified, a loss of 6,900 for ESP with 41 states experiencing a decrease in membership, for a total membership loss of over 58,000. On a positive note, NEA Retired membership has increased by 3,087, and Student membership has increased by almost 3,000. The annual audit has been completed and NEA is in solid financial health with unrestricted net assets of over $61 million and over $1.9 million in contingency. With a ratio of $3.40 of assets for every $1 of liability, NEA far surpasses the industry standard ratio of 2:1.  In other areas, Pringle has participated in many minority community outreach meetings and discussions, and has represented NEA at a variety of venues, interviews and panels.

John Wilson, NEA Executive Director’s Report—

Wilson stated that plans for the Representative Assembly will be different this year with a day of professional development being planned in which all delegates can choose to participate prior to the RA. He mentioned a new ongoing research project on teacher effectiveness from the Gates Foundation that uses a variety of ways to evaluate teacher effectiveness. In other areas, he reported that 98% of school employees believe that it is their job to intervene when they encounter bullying, and NEA has developed materials to train members in how to prevent bullying. To end his report, Wilson announced that he is retiring effective August 31st.

New NEA Executive Director Named—

Following the announcement of John Wilson’s coming retirement, President Van Roekel announced that John Stocks, current NEA Assistant Executive Director, has been selected as the next NEA Executive Director.

General Counsel Alice O’Brien, General Counsel’s Report—

O’Brien reported that, effective January 1, 2011, a final Dept. of Labor rule change will remove the pure public sector NEA state affiliates from some onerous LMRDA regulations established during the Bush Administration.  The NEA’s position, dating back to enactment of the LMRDA over forty years ago, was that pure public sector labor unions were not subject to the LMRDA.  NEA filed detailed comments with the DOL last April in support of the rescission of the 2003 Bush Administration reinterpretation, which the DOL relied upon in deciding to issue the final rule. Significantly, the new rule brings to a successful conclusion the long running Alabama Education Association v. Chao litigation, which NEA filed in 2003 on behalf of 33 pure public affiliates.  O’Brien also reported on the Indiana State Teachers Assn. Trust Litigation in which the Indiana Secretary of State sued ISTA, ISTA Trust.  O’Brien reminded members that tenure is actually just due process that is awarded to most teachers after at least three years (four in Illinois) in a particular district, and that teachers can still be dismissed for just cause. Tenure is the single most effective method of protecting teachers from arbitrary unfounded actions and preserves the classroom as an arena for professional judgment and independence.

NEA Department Reports—

Valerie Wilk, Higher Ed Dept., reported on a new structure and greater visibility for the department, with an emphasis on Higher Education organizing, Emerging Leaders Academy, training leaders how to do one-on-one visits, and NCHE President presentation at the White House Summit on Community Colleges.

Carrie Pugh, Strategic Federal Initiatives Dept., reported on their work with the Priority Schools Campaign Roxanne Dove, ESP Quality Dept., cooperated with other national organizations to promote ESP issues and pass important legislation. They continue to advocate for the importance of ESP in educating all students. Becky Daise, Membership & Organizing, reported on how NEA is responding pro-actively to the loss of membership and the anti-union attacks nationwide.

Kimberly Anderson, Gov. Relations, & Tommie Leaders, NEA Student Program, reported how students were actively involved in important political campaigns, in enrolling new active members, and preparing to be the leaders of the future.

Todd Crenshaw, NEA Retired, reported on all of the areas in which NEA Retired members are involved, such as fighting privatization and cuts to Social Security & Medicare, repeal of the GPO/WEP, secure pension protection, mentoring student teachers, lobbying, and working in political campaigns.

NEA Teacher Quality’s Segund Eubanks, NEA staff, detailed the assessment and evaluation. The report lays out five core principles for transforming education systems to support effective teaching and improving student learning:  Safe and open collaboration Measure teacher performance using multiple ratings and based on clear teaching standards Integrated systems must be validated and meaningful Teacher input in determining performance and learning outcomes Assessments must be negotiated in collaboration with the association Bill Raabe, Collective Bargaining & Member Advocacy, professional growth pay system. Two key questions that should be asked when building a pay system are: what is the purpose of the salary schedule NEA has developed a framework that can be used by locals to build their own model.

Michael Edwards, NEA staff, reported on the NEA/AFL-CIO Labor Solidarity Partnership Agreement. He stated that the labor union movement is at a crossroads. Even though traditional unions helped to build the middle class and won important safeguards for workers, membership in unions has fallen dramatically in recent years, as many jobs represented by unions no longer exist.  Education unions have the highest percentage of union membership with 39%. Only 12% of workers in all other areas belong to a union. Edwards stated that NEA couldn’t survive as a union if other unions fail. NEA has a working relationship with the AFT through four merged states and numerous merged local affiliates. NEA and AFT share more than 690,000 members. NEA has been working cooperatively with AFL-CIO and CTW (Change to Win) to further the cause of all workers, and has emerged as a central player in the labor movement.

Special Guest Hilda Solis, U.S. Secretary of Labor–

She praised a former teacher for giving her the confidence to even think about attending college. Solis touted the necessity of extending unemployment benefits to the two million Americans who have been unemployed for extended periods. She mentioned the federal Job Corps program that has helped many students nationwide. And she believes worker workers should be able to collectively bargain.  In defending the recent Obama compromise on the Bush Tax credits, she stated that Pres. Obama negotiated $238 billion in savings for working class families while the Republicans received $113 billion for the richer Americans.

Special International Education Guests—

Angelos Gavrielatos, President of Australia Education Union, and Susan Hopgood, General Secretary of the Australian Education Union and President of Education International, addressed the Board. Gavrielatos detailed the proposals of the current government in Australia that are damaging to public education, similar to many proposals in the US.  Hopgood focused on the human rights of all students and emphasized that the EI represents 64 million teachers worldwide who fight daily for the rights of their students. There are 74 million children worldwide who have no access to an education. EI strives to provide quality public education for all children and human rights for all. The global financial crisis has caused a substantial decrease in the amount of aid from developed countries, such as the US and Australia, to developing countries. This has had a devastating effect on education and other social services. EI will continue to advocate for investments in the future through education.  Hopwood also visited with members of the NEA Board Higher Education committee and heard their experiences and challenges.

Hispanic Caucus Celebration with guest speaker, Dr. Theresa Montano—

The former NEA Board member taught in the Los Angeles public schools where she was a UTLA member, and currently teaches at the university level. The Latino/a student population has continued to grow in the US, now equaling over 15%, and projected to be more than 30% by the year 2050. Montano emphasized the diversity within the Hispanic population. Almost 50% of Latino children in schools are American born. They are more likely to not have access to preschool, be in segregated classrooms taught by inexperienced teachers, and more likely to drop out before graduation. She urged all educators to promote the idea that it is the right of every child to have access to a quality public education and to live in a multi-cultural, multi-lingual United States.

NEA RA Standing Rules Reorganization–

Bill Bjork, Chairman of the Committee on Constitution Bylaws and Rules, presented a special report on the reorganization and restatement of the Standing Rules. No rules will be changed, simply reorganized to make them more user-friendly and easier to locate. If accepted by the Board in February, it will be presented to the RA. If adopted there, it will become effective in September 2011.  He also presented the proposed changes to the NEA Campaign and Election Guidelines. Because of new rulings from the federal Department of Labor easing prior restrictions, the CCBR is recommending amendments to the guidelines that remove current restrictions that prohibit the use of subjective statements on campaign materials. Currently, campaign materials are restricted to only objective statements. The Board will vote at the February meeting on this item.

Commission on Effective Teachers and Teaching—

The NEA has created a national independent commission to study the teaching profession and make recommendations on maximizing teacher and teaching effectiveness.  Joyce Powell, Executive Committee member, and Becky Pringle, Secretary Treasurer, reported that the commission consists of 21 accomplished teachers supported by researchers, policymakers and academics who will examine the policies and practices governing the teaching profession and craft a new teacher-centered vision of teaching and the teaching profession. The Commission is charged with accomplishing work in four areas:  Analyzing existing standards, definition, policies and practices related to teacher effectiveness and effective teaching; Crafting a new vision of a teaching profession that is led by teachers and ensures teacher and teaching effectiveness; Developing a comprehensive set of recommendations for education leaders and policymakers about the future of the teaching profession; and Describing the role of teachers in governing it.

Actions of the Board:

Elected board members: Sid Johnson (NEA Retired), Alicia Bata, Kathy Vetter, Maury Kaufman, Stephen Henry, Brenna Isaacs, Tim Graham and Tom Nicholas as delegates from the Board (George Sheridan & Laura Vernon as alternates) to the National Congress of Education International, which will take place in Cape Town, South Africa, in July, 2011.  Additional members may attend at their expense.

Approved the Executive Committee recommendation to adopt amendments to the NEA Caucus Guidelines that will require at least 25 members for a caucus to be recognized, while exempting the current caucuses from this requirement.

Approved the Executive Committee recommendation to establish a special Affiliate Defense Fund (up to $5 million) under the Ballot Measure Legislative Crisis Fund that allows for allocations based on targeting and legislative threat levels, rather than when a state application is submitted. Since funds are limited and needs will be substantial, NEA needs to be more targeted and timely in allocation of these funds.

Strategic Board Discussions—

The Board broke into small groups to have strategic discussions about three major issues:

  1. What are the major characteristics of effective teaching and what role should the union play?
  2. What are the advantages/disadvantages of lowering the minimum requirement of 75% classroom teachers on all NEA committees? If the minimum were lowered, what should it be and why?
  3. Given the current economic and political environment, what is more of a priority/no longer as critical as it seemed last year?

 

 

 

 

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