NEA Directors Report — February 2011

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NEA Board Report – February 2011 — Washington, DC

NEA Directors attending:  Mike Orr, Gary Miller, Al llorens, Kathi Griffin, Terrie Tudor, Jim Grimes, Eric Brown, Katie Kreis.  Also attending NEA events were IEA Officers Ken Swanson, Bob Blade and Cinda Klickna.

NEA President—Welcome and Overview

President Dennis Van Roekel, began the meeting by giving an overview of the two days, why and how the days have been arranged, and the goals for the two-day meeting.

Report of the Vice President—

Lily Eskelsen, Vice President, reported on efforts to present a Regional Resolution on Haiti at the Education International Congress this summer in Cape Town, South Africa. The resolution would create ways to meet the educational needs of students. She detailed the work of the NEA For-Profit Task Force for the Online Academy, which continues to investigate ways to benefit our members through the Online Academy.  She continues her outreach to organizations that support and oppose our efforts and goals.

Report of Secretary Treasurer—

Becky Pringle, NEA Secretary Treasurer, reported that total membership is down by 46,363 from last year at this time. However, Retired, Student and Higher Education gained membership. Total membership is still almost 3.2 million. The financial picture is still solid with net assets of over $65 million and sufficient funds to meet all budgeted items. The contingency fund has a balance of over $1.9 million and there have been no recent deductions. Because of membership losses and a smaller dues increase than was anticipated last year (at the beginning of the two-year budget cycle), NEA is now expecting a budget shortfall in the second year of this two-year budget. A revised 2010-2012 budget, based on the modified structure adopted by the Board at this meeting, will be presented to the Board at the May meeting. Additionally, the Board will begin to discuss a proposed 2012-2014 budget.

Strategic Plan and Budget—

NEA Dues for 2011-12 – to be voted on at the NEA RA

Executive Director Report—

John Wilson, Executive Director, reported that President Obama’s budget proposal will include an increase for IDEA, an increase for Title 1, and a move away from state-based and toward individual districts for Race to the Top funds. The NEA Foundation has voted to endow $2.5 million for preserving NEA Archives at George Washington University. This year marks the 45th anniversary of the ratification of the 26th Amendment, which gave eighteen-year-olds the right to vote. NEA was instrumental in the passage of this amendment. NEA will be celebrating with “Rock the Vote” activities geared toward voter education and registration.

Report of the General Counsel—

Alice O’Brien, General Counsel, reported that: 1) the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of the class action lawsuit Daniels-Hall v. NEA, which sought to proceed with breach of fiduciary and alleged ERISA violations against NEA, NEA Member Benefits Corp., Nationwide Life Insurance, and Security Benefit Life Insurance Co.; 2) NEA drafted a section of joint NEA/AFT/NYSUT Amicus Brief in support of UFT’s lawsuit to prevent the disclosure of value added estimates for thousands of New York City teachers to the New York media; 3) NEA continued to monitor legal developments surrounding Arizona’s controversial new law aimed at ethnic studies courses; 4) NEA assisted the Alabama Education Association with legal analysis regarding S.B. 2, both during the legislative process and after the legislation passed, conducted extensive legal and legislative research, provided significant written guidance to AEA regarding potential claims and litigation issues, worked with AEA to develop an overall legal strategy, and is currently helping AEA to develop a federal court challenge to the payroll deduction ban; 5) NEA provided all state affiliates with significant guidance regarding the legal framework that governs the provision of payroll deductions for dues payment and PAC contributions, as well as suggested legal and legislative strategies to defeat attempts to eliminate payroll deduction arrangements; 6) NEA provided analysis of a bill imposing severe restrictions on political activity of unions in AZ; 7) NEA provided advice and assistance to attorneys in 23 states on a wide range of legal issues; and numerous other activities.

Headline News – Updates on NEA Departmental Activities—

Cynthia Swann, Director, NEA Minority Community Outreach, reported that they are creating an MCO network, supporting the Priority Schools Campaign, providing state and local affiliate resources, and broadening ethnic minority community engagement.

Bouy Te, Director, NEA Quality School Programs and Resources, reported that they have developed Keys to Excellence for your Schools (KEYS) which support schools throughout the country, English Language Learners culture and equity programs, and programs and resources to support NEA’s Great Public Schools and Priority Schools Campaigns.

Donna Harris-Aikens, Director, NEA Education Policy and Practice, reported that the department has been busy providing policy analysis for state affiliates on vouchers, charter school accountability, and full-day kindergarten as well as many other activities.

Bill Thompson, Director, NEA Financial and Membership Services, works with state and local affiliates to provide membership management services, financial management services, business assistance, and regulatory compliance services.

Phil McLaurin, Director, NEA External Partnerships and Advocacy, reported that his department has been concentrating on ending the dropout epidemic, motivating students through service learning, and supporting NEA’s part in the JumpStart Coalition’s National Conference for Financial Literacy.

Daaiyah Bilal-Threats, Director, Governance and Policy Support, reported that NEA will be sending 50 delegates and 65 observers to the Education International Convention in Cape Town, South Africa. Governance will be participating in the International Summit on the Teaching Profession in NYC, and in the project for Great Ideas for Great Public Schools. A new online committee nominations process has been developed.

Special Presentation – State of the States—

President Van Roekel asked five states to give examples of what is happening across the country in state affiliates.

Ken Swanson, President of IEA, noted that even with a Democratic Governor and legislature in Illinois, education is still under attack. Last year a two-tiered pension plan was put into place in a matter of hours and the legislature also passed several laws that IEA opposed, so IEA did not support many of the incumbents who had previously been their friends. Consequently, public education now faces many challenges. Legislation is proposed that would eliminate seniority, tenure, RIF/Recall Rights, collective bargaining and the right to strike. Other attacks include TABOR and pension “reform”. In response IEA is proposing their own set of education reforms and working in coalitions with other education groups and unions.

Penni Cyr, NEA Director, and Marty Meyer, Idaho EA Vice President, described what is happening in ID after losing the races for governor and Superintendent of Public Instruction. Proposed legislation would eliminate tenure, gut collective bargaining, provide pay for performance, cut 1000 teaching positions to pay for lap-top computers, and vastly expand virtual learning.

Paul Toner, President of Mass. Teachers Assn., stated that with a $1.5 billion structural deficit in MA, federal stimulus funds disappearing, and a $1 billion shortfall in the pension system, there is no political or public appetite for raising new revenues without reforms in healthcare spending and government efficiencies. Public sector unions have been faced with enormous pressure to change how they negotiate local healthcare which has resulted in proposed legislation which would put limits on what can be bargained. MEA is heavily involved in RTTT and proposed their own evaluation framework as well as other “reform” items.

Anita Gibson, Alabama EA President, described the process AEA followed in response to the loss of dues deduction . With only 90 days to switch over to a different system, they have been assisted by NEA to develop a face-to-face contact campaign with every member to re-sign them as members. In one week they resigned 40% of their members.

John Stocks, NEA Assistant Executive Director, reported on what has happened in Wisconsin after the election of a very anti-union governor and legislature. The governor has introduced a bill that will: eliminate dues deduction, bargaining rights, due process, fair share, and the right to strike; proposes detrimental pension “reform”; and contains many other articles that are geared toward attempting to destroy the WEA.

Crisis Campaign Update–

John Stocks reported on NEA’s response to all of the attacks on public education and its state affiliates. NEA affiliates face aggressive anti-union attacks on collective bargaining, on tenure and fair dismissal, and on our pensions and benefits. We also confront well-funded and bold anti-teacher and anti-public education school activists who advocate vouchers, devalue teaching, and disrespect the importance of the voice of educators in their own professions. All of this is made even more difficult by the severe economic conditions in our states and at the federal level. Goals of the NEA campaign are to:

  • Assist states in responding to current significant threats
  • Integrate & align resources to build support for public education
  • Take the offense by advocating for a positive public agenda that involves NEA led education reforms and school transformation projects like the Priority Schools Campaign
  • Elevate & maximize the time and visibility of NEA officers as spokespersons for public education
  • Work in partnerships with other groups to accomplish our goals

For more information on what NEA is doing and how you can be involved and help, watch for a follow-up communication.

Communications Strategy—

Member Engagement Through Social Media

President Van Roekel again exhorted all Board members to encourage all members to sign up for www.EducationVotes.NEA.org. On Education Votes, members will be able to see what the hottest issues are nationwide, and what is being done in response. Social media can help us to inform and mobilize our members. NEA maintains a database of member political activists that all state affiliates can access when needed.

Women’s History Month Observance—

June Zeitlin, women’s rights advocate and director of the CEDAW Ratification Campaign, spoke to the Board about CEDAW (Convention on Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women). The landmark international agreement was adopted by the United Nations in 1979. It affirms the principles of fundamental human rights and equality for women around the world. CEDAW has been ratified by 186 out of 193 countries in the world. The United States, Sudan, Somalia, Iran, and three small Pacific Island nations (Naura, Palau, and Tonga) have not ratified CEDAW. The agreement would: reduce sex trafficking and other forms of violence against women; provide access to education and vocational training; end forced marriage and child marriage; help mothers gain access to maternal health care; and ensure women the right to vote, work, and own a business. NEA strongly supports the ratification of CEDAW treaty by the U.S. Senate. It has never been brought to the Senate floor for a vote, and it will take two-thirds of the Senate (67 votes) to ratify. NEA urges members to contact their Senators and voice their support for CEDAW. For more information go to www.CEDAW2011.org.

Black History Month Observance—

Baruti Kafele, nationally recognized teacher, administrator, and education innovator, was the keynote speaker. Coming from a family of teachers, he started out in the corporate world, but found his way to education as a calling. He spoke about transforming thinking and attitudes of young Black students to foster a confidence that they can achieve their goals by teaching them about the heroes who came before them and persevered against all odds.

Several recent studies report that Black youth are struggling along all points of the academic continuum. Forty-two percent of Black students attend schools that are under-resourced and performing poorly. Black boys are three times more likely to be suspended or expelled from school than their White peers. Black and Hispanic males constitute almost 80% of youth in special education programs. Less than half of Black male students graduate from high school on time, although many eventually complete a GED. In 2008, 4.6 million Black males had attended college, but only half graduated. Nationally, only 11% of Black males complete a bachelor’s degree.

Priority Schools—

Princess Moss, Len Paolillo, and Greg Johnson, NEA Executive Committee Members, updated the Board on the progress of NEA’s Priority Schools Campaign and the positive impact that it is having on selected schools nationwide. It is proof that union-led, collaborative school transformation programs are highly successful in improving student achievement, morale, and attendance, and having an impact on entire communities.

UniServe Grants—

Mark Shively, NEA Director and Chair of the UniServe Committee, reported that the projected amount for UniServe grants for next year will be $36,858, which is $75 less than this year. There will be no UniServe rebate next year. The final report will be acted on by the Board at the May meeting.

Internal Concerns Committee reported out issues to the Board.

Report of the Committee on Constitution, Bylaws and Rules—

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. The Board voted to support the changes and submit to the RA for adoption.

Bill Bjork 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  recommended 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 voted to approve the revisions.

Read Across America—

Penni Cyr, NEA Director, and Greg Johnson, Executive Board, reported on the year-around activities of Read Across America. NEA now has a registered trademark for Read Across America, which cannot be used without giving credit to NEA. RAA has a FaceBook site, still has calendars available, and will have their kick-off event on March 2nd that will include Sect. of Education Arne Duncan, Pres. Van Roekel, and possibly First Lady Michelle Obama. NEA will again promote Earth Day with the “Lorax” program. Go to www.nea.org/ReadAcross for more information and to sign your pledge.

Commission on Effective Schools and Effective Teaching—

Joyce Powell, Executive Committee member and Commission Chair, gave the Board an update on the progress of the Commission and its efforts to identify, study and promote union-led, teacher-led reforms that are being successful in advancing quality public education.

NEA Anti-Bullying Campaign—

Rocio Inclan, Director of NEA Human & Civil Rights, reported on the development of resources and training for members to help them create safe school environments for all students. NEA will launch an anti-bullying campaign called “Bully Free, It Starts With Me.”  Go to www.nea.org/bullyfree for more information.

Actions of the Board—

  • Supported adoption of the reorganization of the Standing Rules at the 2011 NEA RA.
  • Approved appointments of members to the Board Steering Committee and several other committee appointments Postpone approval of the proposed changes to the NEA Fund Council Guidelines.

Katie Kreis, Student NEA Director from Illinois, was named to the Board Steering Committee.

  • Passed a motion to request a change in the NEA Fund Council Guidelines that would change the Fundraising Advisory Committee from “six state affiliate presidents” to “six Fund Council members” to be appointed by the NEA President.
  • Voted to Recommend the 2011-2012 dues: $168 active certified (a $2 increase); $96.50 ESP (no increase); no change for student dues.
  • Adopted the Financial & Operational Standards for state affiliates developed in cooperation with NEA and NCSEA.
  • Adopted a proposed modified structure for the 2010-2012 budget
  • Supported amendment to Constitutional Amendment 1 to delete the words after “at least” and insert “fifty (50).”
  • Support Constitutional Amendment 1 if amended to change “at least fifty (50) to at least seventy-five (75) percent” to “at least fifty (50) percent” classroom teachers on all NEA committees.
  • Opposed Bylaw 1 which would establish that NEA take “no position” for or against legislation regarding abortion.
  • Opposed Bylaw 2 which would establish that the specified objectives in achieving association goals be broad, overarching statements of purpose.
  • Supported Standing Rule 1 which would emphasize that adopted new business items texts may be edited to replace K-12 with Pre-K-12 under specific circumstances.
  • Opposed Standing Rule 2 which would require main motions, modifications, and amendments to be submitted in writing prior to the time the maker is recognized to speak.
  • Took no position on Standing Rule 4 (which will be renumbered to 3) which would prohibit the distribution of material and information contrary to NEA Resolutions on Curriculum Content in the Annual Meeting exhibit area by NEA affiliates, delegates, and caucuses.  This discussion focused on the Creationist Science booth operated by NEA members.
  • Approved the Executive Committee recommendation to submit a Bylaw amendment to increase the dues for the Ballot Measure/Legislative Crises and Media Campaign Fund amount from $10 – $20 and to have a five-year Sunset Clause for the increase.
  • Approved the proposed changes to the Campaign and Elections Regulations for NEA Officers.
  • Approved the recommendation of the Executive Officer Compensation Review Committee to freeze the Executive Officers’ salary and the Executive Committee stipends for the 2011-2012 fiscal year.
  • Approved the recommendations of the Annual Meeting Review Committee regarding all New Business Items involving the Annual Meeting that were passed at the 2010 RA.
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