NEA Board of Directors Report — September 2011


NEA Directors attending: Terrie Tudor, Jim Grimes, Eric Brown, Alex Wallace, Joyce Bailey, Tom Tully, Vickie Mahrt and Matt Hiser.  Also attending NEA events were IEA Officers Cinda Klickna, Kathi Griffin and Al Llorens.

NEA President – Dennis Van Roekle

Discussed NEA’s next steps and labor relations across the country.

Executive Session Discussions

“Headline News” Reports/Updates from:  

  • National Council for Higher Education President
  • National Council Urban Education Assns. President
  • National Council Educational Support Professionals President
  • National Council of State Educational Associations President
  • NEA Retired Executive Council President
  • Advisory Committee of Student Members Chairperson

 Illinois members and staff appointed to NEA Committees:

  • Terrie Tudor, Social Security Fairness (GPO-WEP)
  • Jim Grimes, Legislation
  • Eric Brown, Health Information Network Board of Directors
  • Frank Brooks, Higher Education Faculty
  • Gaziur Rahman, Resolutions Committee, Higher Ed, At Large
  • Michael Ruggless, Student Members
  • Gladys Marquez, Ethnic Minority Affairs
  • Gene Craig, Retired Advisory Council
  • Mae Smith, Retired Advisory Council
  • Charles McBarron, State Media Advisory

Secretary-Treasurer – Becky Pringle

The recovery of employment and school funding will lag behind any economic recovery.

NEA is exercising caution and continued diligence in the conduct of our fiduciary duties.


  • Students up by 4%
  • Retired up by 5.5%
  • Higher Ed up by 2.6%
  • ESP down by .7%
  • Active certified down by 2.2%

NEA/State Affiliate Shared Priorities:

  1. Communications: internal and external; coalitions and external partnerships
  2. Organizing: creating a culture of organizing that recruits, retains, engages, mobilizes members
  3. Great Public Schools: policies and programs to improve school; focus on Priority Schools
  4. Advocacy: policies, politics, member rights, contracts, and crises
  5. Fiscal Health: NEA and affiliates

Discussion on the framework for the 2012-14 Strategic Plan and Budget, Strategic Goals

GLBT Observance

Graeme Taylor, a high school student from Michigan was the keynote.

Jay McDowell, an NEA teacher in Howell, Michigan, was temporarily suspended after telling a student wearing a Confederate flag and a studentmaking anti-gay remarks to get out of his class. At the next school board meeting, openly gay 14-year-old high-school student Graeme Taylor came to McDowell’s defense, thanking the teacher for doing “an amazing thing” in a town home to the KKK, and urging the school board to give McDowell his pay and reverse the disciplinary action.

Graeme, whose parents are both NEA members, said, “I’ve been in classrooms where children have said the worst things – the kinds of things that drove me to a suicide attempt when I was only 9 years old.  These are the things that hurt a lot.  There is a silent holocaust out there, in which an estimated 6 million gay people every year kill themselves.”

What McDowell tried to do, says Taylor, was move the needle ever so slightly in the other direction and defend LGBT kids who have found hallway torment to be status quo. “The best thing you can do right now is just give him his pay for that day, and just reverse the disciplinary actions.  He did an amazing thing. He did something that’s inspired a lot of people. And whenever — ever — I have a teacher stand up for me like that, they change in my eyes. I support Jay McDowell, and I hope you do too.”  Graeme ended his remarks by saying, “Make no mistake about it, educators.  Students count on you to stand up for goodness.  Without it, everything you teach is empty.”

Related Videos:


American Indians and Alaska Natives Observance

Kevin Gover (Pawnee/Comanche) is Director of the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI).  He is a briefcase warrior (Indian lawyer) who reminded us that, since the first European incursion, American Indians have been defined by others, by non-Indian observers.

The National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) is the eighteenth museum of the Smithsonian Institution. It is the first national museum dedicated to the preservation, study, and exhibition of the life, languages, literature, history, and arts of Native Americans. The museum works in collaboration with the Native peoples of the Western Hemisphere to protect and foster their cultures by reaffirming traditions and beliefs, encouraging contemporary artistic expression, and empowering the Indian voice.  Extensive collections encompass more that 800,000 works of extraordinary aesthetic, religious, and historical significance, as well as articles produced for everyday, utilitarian use. The collections span all major culture areas of the Americas, representing virtually all tribes of the United States, most of those of Canada, and a significant number of cultures from Central and South America as well as the Caribbean. Chronologically, the collections include artifacts from Paleo-Indian to contemporary arts and crafts. The museum’s holdings also include film and audiovisual collections, paper archives, and a photography archive of more than 300,000 images depicting both historic and contemporary Native American life.  NMAI actively strives to find new approaches to the study and representation of the history, materials, and cultures of Native peoples.

Dr. Patrick Dolan on  “The Changing Structure and Purpose of U.S. Public Education—What Does It Mean for Teacher Unionism”

In his opening remarks, Dolan said that, “We add authentic voice to those who have no voice.”  He then provided a historical perspective (pre-NCLB) of the four roles of public education:

  • citizenship in democracy
  • social justice
  • development of the child
  • academic achievement

NCLB and resulting policy and practice have nearly eliminated all but a very narrow sliver of academic achievement.  Dolan pointed out that No Child Left Behind has been a revolution in public education, with very little educator input.  Now, 44 states in just over two years have moved from local to federal standards—common core standards.

He argued that NEA must be more nimble in dealing with change.  He raised the question about what educators do, can it be outsourced?  Could technology eliminate teaching?  Can the Association lead in the professionalism of the career field?

He argues that NEA and state affiliates and local associations must retool to focus on the quality of teaching and student outcomes. The focus of Dolan’s consulting firm is public education and its restructuring from a joint perspective of union/management cooperation.  He has helped to implement collaborative structures at the state and local district and site levels including in Illinois.  He has also done extensive work with locals and state affiliates of the NEA. Dolan has worked with over 200 school districts on deep reform of both the structure of decision-making and the culture surrounding and supporting improvements in teaching and learning.

Video of Dr. Dolan sharing his perspective of the new reality for public schools:

Board Breakout Discussions:

The NEA Board began small-group discussions in an effort to analyze NEA’s role in the current political, cultural, and public education landscape.  The initial discussions were in response to remarks by Dr. Patrick Dolan.

Reports to the Board: 

  • NEA Executive Committee
  • Board Internal Concerns Committee
  • 2011 Education International World Congress Delegation (South Africa)
  • NEA Whistleblower and Conflict of Interest Policy
  • Preliminary Report on Implementation of 2011 New Business Items

Board Action Items:

  • The NEA Board of Directors allocated $5,000,000 for the newly approved Affiliate Defense Fund, a designated account within the Ballot Measure/Legislative Crises Fund set up to provide a targeted and collaborative strategy for supporting affiliates’ efforts to defend against unprecedented attacks.
  • Approved funding for New Business Items approved at the Representative Assembly.

Vice President – Lily Eskelsen has been appointed to serve on the White House Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.  Its mission is to develop, implement, and coordinate education programs and initiatives at the DOE and other agencies that focus on improvements of education opportunities and outcomes for Hispanics of all ages.

Within five years, 25% of Kindergarteners will be Hispanic, yet the American Hispanic school-age population suffers from:  highest dropout rates, lowest rate of college enrollment, lowest rate of college completion, language barriers (kids and parents),immigration issues, and poverty issues.

Board Elections: NEA Program and Budget Committee

Executive Director – John Stocks reported on public perception of the public education system and unions remains critical to the Association’s future.

We do have some positive, even hopeful, things going on in the NEA.  Academic achievement overall is growing; the achievement gap is closing; we are having deeper communication with members at the state and local level; there has been a sharp increase in member involvement; through data bases, we are able to track membership more efficiently; the culture of organizing is developing with members becoming more engaged through one on one dialogue; our priority schools campaign is further establishing us as the positive voice for struggling schools; public perception of schools has increased: 77% of parents grade the school of their oldest child as A or B; conservative movement has put the success of public education at the front of political discussions, and it is now being tied to the survival of the middle class.

We also have to deal with immediate threats to our membership.

John Stocks will visit Texas in October to become sensitized and experienced regarding border communities. He will continue to visit communities in other states to learn more about children in poverty, particularly in rural areas. “It is critical that our association work on issues of justice and civil rights for our children.”

NEA Policy Briefs

NEA recently released three new and one updated policy briefs. Each brief gives an overview of an issue and relevant research.  The briefs were written for an external audience – legislators at the state and national level – but can be shared with your state and local members, school board members, and others concerned with education policy.  The briefs include:  Blended Learning, School-Family Engagement: Staff Preparations and Support are Vital, Beyond Two Test Scores: Multiple Measures of Student Learning and School Accountability, and Subsidizing Private Education at Taxpayer Expense.

Reframing the Education Debate

The NEA/State Affiliate Working Group released its message guide, “Reframing the Education Debate” as part of the National Message Project.  NEA conducted both member and public/voter research; to affirm national findings, 21 states conducted the same member survey in their states; and 11 states conducted the public survey.

A kit has been designed to provide a framework to help shape message and can be used in communications with members and the external public, such as the media, elected officials, policy makers, parents, neighbors, and community leaders.

Core Message:

  • America’s teachers are on the front lines of education every day.  We became educators because we care deeply about out children’s future and we are committed to the success of every child.
  • Our classroom experience has taught us that the only way to guarantee our children’s future – and our own – is to put students at the center of education reform and make a nationwide commitment to
  • Hold all of us accountable for our student’s success – teachers, students, parents, and elected officials.
  • Invest in the classroom priorities that build the foundation for student learning.
  • Ensure that every student has a qualified, caring, and committed teacher in the classroom.

General Counsel – Alice O’Brian reported on federal and state court cases and pending actions in defense of member rights.  NEA Legal continues to support state affiliates and locals.

Obama Administration NCLB Waiver Plan

Director Eric Brown participated in a White House ceremony rolling out the President’s plans.

 The President outlined how states can get relief from provisions from ESEA (NCLB) in exchange for serious state-led efforts to close achievement gaps, promote rigorous accountability, and ensure that all students “are on track to graduate college- and career-ready.”  President Obama said that the purpose is not to give states and districts a reprieve from accountability, but rather to unleash energy to improve our schools at the local level.

Talking points in support of the waiver proposal include the following:

  • Students, educators, school districts, and states all need relief as quickly as possible from the undue burdens caused by the law and its regulations.
  • This package is an important interim step for relief.
  • Working with Congress to make comprehensive changes during the reauthorization process remains the ultimate goal.
  • Teachers and educators closest to classrooms understand best what students need.
  • This proposal allows for additional locally developed strategies that focus on innovation, and professional judgment tailored to the student population; preserves more flexibility for the rural districts; does away with the punitive AP system and requires states to set “ambitious, but achievable” annual measurable objectives instead of requiring 100% of students to meet an arbitrary benchmark on a particular day of the school year; gives more flexibility to local needs and promotes more school district efficiency, collaboration, and strategic planning;
  • This proposal maintains a commitment to civil rights and to student success, with a focus on children of color and those in poverty; removes harmful labeling of schools and instead recognizes the lowest 5% of Title I schools as the nation’s “Priority Schools;” preserves a commitment to closing the achievement gaps by continuing to disaggregate data.
  • There is a stronger recognition of the profession of teaching and its complexities because it recognizes collective bargaining as a process for innovation and positive change; respects educators by creating time fro planning and piloting prior to requiring implementation of teacher and principal evaluation systems; focuses on better, stronger professional development that is tied to supporting great teaching and in sync with teacher evaluation systems; respects the views and judgments of teachers by guaranteeing them a seat at the decision-making table.
  • This is an improved process because applications for waivers are open and transparent; the package calls not only for civil right organizations and parents to be involved, but students themselves.

In an effort to reduce expenses, the December NEA Board Meeting will be shortened and combined with a virtual meeting.


 Common Core Standards that have been adopted by states:

Legislative Action Center:

Below is the link to contact Congress regarding the American Job Act:

Below is the link to contact Congress regarding the Super Committee:


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