NEA Directors Report — May 2013

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NEA Directors and Officers attending:  Jim Grimes, Eric Brown, Joyce Bailey, Tom Tully, Alex Wallace, Vickie Mahrt, IEA V.P. Kathi Griffin and IEA Sec-Treas. Al llorens.  

President

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel welcomed the Board and outlined the agenda for the meetings.  Throughout the meeting, headline reports were presented by senior directors for each state/affiliate.  For Illinois, Jim Grimes outlined the current status of legislative issues and the heroic actions of Normal Community High School teacher and IEA-NEA member Derrick Schonauer in subduing a student with a gun.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan addresses NEA board

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan joined the NEA board of directors to honor the five National Teacher Hall of Fame inductees.

Duncan talked for about five minutes and spoke on two topics: President Barack Obama’s early childhood education proposal to spend $75 billion over the next decade on early childhood education for low- and middle-income children who are not currently enrolled in preschool, and a $5 billion proposal to elevate and strengthen the teaching profession.

However, before he touched on those two topics, Duncan said thank you to the inductees. As a parent of a 5th and 3rd grader in public schools, Duncan said, “I think they do amazing things because they have great teachers like you in their lives. As a dad I thank you.”

The early childhood proposal, which was included in Obama’s budget proposal, would expand the access to high quality early childhood education, Duncan said. “It’s one of the greatest gifts we could ever give the country.”

The average poor child comes to kindergarten a year and a half behind over children, Duncan said. “We have to get out of the catch up business. We have to level the playing field.”

As to elevating and strengthening the teaching profession, Duncan said, “We have to bring in great talent, we have to better support that great talent, we have to better reward and pay that great talent. We have to have career ladders.

“The baby boom generation is retiring. Our ability to attract and retain that great talent over the next four or five or six years is going to shape public education for the next 30.

“The President also talked about in the State of the Union the Respect Project, the $5 billion proposal to fundamentally reshape what we’re doing there. So much of our thinking in the Respect Project actually came from an independent commission that Dennis and the NEA put together (the Commission on Effective Teachers and Teaching). Read their document and our document, they sound pretty similar. We actually stole a lot of their ideas, but they didn’t get the vast majority of the credit.”

“We can find ways to bring great talent into the classroom, to keep that great talent. We lose far too many of our great young teachers for a whole host of reasons, for low compensation, no support, lack of mobility, not enough master teachers. We need to keep great teachers like these five not for two, three, four years, but for 20, 30, 40 years.

“If we get those two pieces right, the early childhood piece and the attracting and retaining the next generation talent, then I think Dennis and I can go on to other things. … Thank you for what you are doing across the country and thanks for the example you set. You epitomize what great teachers are all about. And again as a dad I’m so thankful.”

Duncan stayed to help hand out plaques honoring the five National Teacher Hall of Fame inductees.

Teacher Hall of Fame inductees honored by NEA board

NEA honored five of the country’s top teachers during a ceremony May 3 at the NEA building in Washington D.C. They will be inducted into the National Teacher Hall of Fame on June 14 in Kansas.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was on hand to help celebrate the 2013 inductees. The five teachers spent the day with Duncan discussing and advocating for positive changes to the nation’s public schools.

The five are from Maryland, Texas, Oklahoma, and two from Missouri.

“Each year, the National Teacher Hall of Fame honors five individuals from more than 7 million great teachers in the U.S.,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “Those selected are exceptional career teachers who demonstrate excellence in teaching. They have made student learning their top priority by finding creative and effective ways to engage their students. Congratulations and thank you to all of those recognized by the Teacher Hall of Fame.”

Here are the inductees:

  • Deborah Cornelison has been a physical science teacher at Byng Junior High in Oklahoma since 1987. Her teaching philosophy is based on the belief that all students can use science skills to learn about the natural world, apply that knowledge to make sense of their diverse places in it, and be empowered to make a real difference.
  • Darryl Johnson teaches 10th-12th grade English/Language Arts at Smithville High School in Missouri. He believes that educators that educators must strive to maintain positive and productive relationships with all stakeholders.
  • Martha McLeod is a 5th grade science lab instructor at Fulton 4-5 Learning Center in Rockport Texas. She believes that only when her students attain new knowledge and find it relevant to their own lives does successful learning occur.
  • Beth Vernon is an 8th grade Earth and space science teacher at Brittany Hill Middle School in Blue Springs, Missouri. Last week, her school surprised her with the news that she had been inducted at an all-school assembly that she thought had been called to unveil pictures of the new school. Vernon, a nearly 30-year teacher, has one golden rule: to create the classroom that she would want to learn and grow in every day.
  • Rebecca Gault, a 6th grade language arts teacher from Bel Air Middle School in Bel Air, Maryland, has been teaching for 22 years. One of her most significant contributions to her school is a job-embedded professional development program which she created collaboratively with three other colleagues. She believes that giving students an outstanding education within the context of community is the greatest legacy teachers can offer future generations.

Stocks challenges NEA board to get on offense

When it comes to the ongoing fights over education reform, NEA’s executive director John Stocks’ major objective is to get off defense and get on offense.

In his report to the NEA board on May 4, Stocks outlined ways that NEA is moving to offense. “It all starts with living our Core Values through action,” he said

Stocks highlighted his recent “listening tour” in Mississippi. He visited some of the most impoverished schools in the country where racism, funding, privatization, a lack of textbooks, facilities, and a “school-to-prison” pipeline all threaten the ability of educators to fulfill NEA’s Core Values.

With a sharp, unflinching stare, Stocks rattled off the six values: Equal opportunity, A just society, Democracy, Professionalism, Partnership, and Collective Action. He challenged the board to live up to the values and steer the organization to a position where these ideals can be achieved.

“We have to give our members a sense of their own power,” he said. “Going on the offense is hard.”

Stocks listed the following actions that demonstrate NEA’s offense:

  • The re-election of President Obama. This is something “we had to win,” he said.
  • Leading the Professions. This is taking multiple angles including the “Raise Your Hand” campaign, NEA’s participation in the Equity and Excellence Commission, deepening partnerships with leading educational organizations such as the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards and the Center for Teacher Quality.
  • Legal issues. NEA has filed a lawsuit in Florida challenging an evaluation law that has teachers being evaluated on test scores outside their subject area and using students they don’t teach. NEA has also engaged in litigation around the Alabama immigration law, voting rights, Proposition 8 in California, the Defense of Marriage Act, and affirmative action cases.
  • Focus on organizing. This includes recruitment and engagement of members around issues they care about.
  • Fiscal health of affiliates. Get the help to state and local organization that they need to survive during difficult budget times
  • Build partnerships. Using behind-the-scenes work, NEA has begun to expose ALEC. NEA has worked with the philanthropic community to help them see that unions are critical to important educational achievements, including the development of the Common Core.
  • Legislative and policy victories. Minnesota voted for full-day kindergarten. Vermont and Maryland both added “agency fee” language within the negative anti-union environment, school funding was increased in California through a ballot initiative. “Winning agency fee in this environment is nothing short of miraculous,” Stocks said.
  • Marriage equality. The RA in 2009 allowed NEA to engage in the fight over the Defense of Marriage Act and to engage in states that have added marriage equality.
  • Fair taxation. NEA engaged in Congress to help pass a $600 billion increase in taxes on the wealthiest Americans.
  • Dream Act. NEA was involved as Colorado and Maryland as they fought for immigration reform. “We care about injustice and we care about building power for this organization to move forward so that we can elect more people like Barack Obama for president or maybe even someone like Hillary Clinton. “

Stocks closed by saying, “We are hear to try to ensure that this organization moves from being totally on our heals on defense to an offensive posture around all the things I’ve talked about and more to come, and to actually get the organization to be back in the position of being the most influential, the most powerful, labor organization in America.”

NEA looks ahead to a hot RA in Atlanta, July 1-6

NEA’s Representative Assembly is fewer than two months away, and it’s already starting to heat up.

The RA will take place in Atlanta at the Georgia World Congress Center, and delegates will want to bring their walking shoes and lightweight clothing.

NEA is staying with the theme, “We educate America,” but the focus this year will be the “Raise Your Hand” campaign. Connected to the idea of leading the professions, the initiative looks to enroll 2,000 delegates into the Great Public Schools Network to begin working on collaboration and other ways to make schools around the country even better.

July 2 will be “Raise Your Hand” Day with three speakers doing TedTalks-style presentations on how to strive for professional excellence. In addition, there will be community outreach opportunities and Common Core presentations. “All of this is done with the intent to show that we—the NEA—are leading the professions,” said president Dennis Van Roekel.

Delegates will be asked on day three of the RA to consider a Bylaw Amendment to raise dues by $3 to help fund even more “Leading the Professions” grants around the country. Money raised from this proposal would be placed in a designated fund that would be used only for grants to state or local associations. The NEA board of directors chose to put the idea before the RA after receiving news that dues were slated to drop for full-time certified members by $3 because of falling salaries around the country. The focus on “leading the professions” is seen as a needed priority of NEA as a way of demonstrating ways that education employees are trying to increase student learning.

Although NEA did fund close to $1 million in Great Public Schools grants last year, it’s expected that if the dues increase is approved, a fund of upwards of $6 million would be available.

Given the additional emphasis on the fund, the NEA board approved language detailing how associations can apply for the grants and who would make decisions on which ones to fund. The board added language giving priority to schools of greatest need and added an ESP and a higher education representative to the six-member screening committee.

To help delegates get informed about the RA, NEA will host two tele-town hall meetings in June using the “Dennis 2 Delegates” format that was used last year. All delegates can participate in the discussion of RA issues and topics.

In addition, there will also be RA App again this year. It’s expected that the App should be available from iTunes by the beginning of June.

Bylaws, Constitutional Amendments, and Standing Rules

The Representative Assembly in Atlanta this July will consider the following proposed changes to the Bylaws, Constitution, or Standing Rules.

Bylaw Amendment 1: $3 dues increase for Great Public Schools grants. BOARD SUPPORTS

Bylaw Amendment 2: Require states to develop plans to bring the appropriate membership constituency percentages to RA. NO POSITION

Bylaw Amendment 3: Prohibit the use of dues money to support political positions about abortion. BOARD OPPOSES

Constitutional Amendment 1: Change the percentage of classroom teachers required on NEA committees from 75 percent to the percentage within NEA membership. BOARD OPPOSES

Constitutional Amendment 2: Remove the classroom teacher percentage requirement for NEA committees. BOARD SUPPORTS

Constitutional Amendment 3: Change the percentage of classroom teachers required on NEA committees from at least 75 to at least 60 percent.            BOARD OPPOSES

Constitutional Amendment 4: Allow NEA to provide the text of proposed amendments to the Constitution or Bylaws through printed or electronic  means. BOARD SUPPORT

SR 1: Return to the original definition used in Robert’s Rules. Since 1986, NEA has allowed the sponsor to speak before a motion to object to consideration is considered. BOARD OPPOSES

SR 2: Allow for an “object to consideration” motion on items that are being proposed to be added to the Legislative Program. Because new items being added to this document are amendments, they are not currently open to this type of objection motion. BOARD SUPPORTS

SR 3: Postpone any vote on a motion to refer until the following day, unless it’s the final day of the RA. Motions to refer New Business Items are often made throughout the process and the concern is that they are made in haste and essentially defeat an item. BOARD OPPOSES

SR 3A: To allow elecronic submission of amendments to the Standing Rules. BOARD SUPPORTS

SR 4: Limit the number of words in a new business item to 100 or fewer. BOARD OPPOSES

SR 5: Require the person submitting a new business item to provide an email address so the person can be contacted. BOARD OPPOSES

SR 5A: Require a motion at the RA to support any boycott or sanction taken by the NEA president since the last RA. BOARD OPPOSES

SR 6: Make available to the sponsor of a new business item the full analysis of the cost estimate for the item. BOARD OPPOSES

SR 7: To provide for an in-person winter meeting for a subsection of the Resolutions Committee. Because of budget challenges, the winter, in-person meeting of the Resolution Committee was changed to a virtual online meeting. The Committee on Constitution, Bylaws and Rules believes that this proposed amendment is in conflict with NEA bylaws. (President Van Roekel told the board he intends to rule this motion out of order)

SR 8: Require two in-person meetings of the Resolutions Committee, at least 60 days apart. The cost of this item is approximately $238,000. BOARD OPPOSES

Florida evaluation law challenged by NEA

NEA and the Florida Education Association filed suit last month challenging the constitutionality of Florida’s teacher evaluation system.

The law, passed in 2011, requires that 40 percent of a teacher’s evaluation be based on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment test score, but the problem is that the FCAT only tests math and reading in certain grades. Florida is applying scores from students to teachers who don’t teach the students a tested subject or even to teachers who don’t teach at tested grade levels. Sometimes, the scores aren’t even from students at the teacher’s school.

The lawsuit challenges the constitutionality on the grounds that it violates the equal protection and due process rights of certain teachers.

“This would all be funny if it wasn’t high stakes,” said NEA General Counsel Alice O’Brien as she updated the NEA board of directors on May 3. “Rest assured that if other states try this … we will bring similar challenges.”

The Florida lawsuit includes five teachers, two of whom have recently received teacher of the year awards.

“My evaluation for the 2011-12 school year was based on the FCAT reading scores of students in another grade in another school,” said Kim Cook, the 2012 teacher of the year at Irby Elementary School in Alachua County. “Specifically, 40 percent of my evaluation was based on FCAT reading scores of the 4th and 5th graders at Alachua Elementary.”

Another plaintiff, Bethann Brooks, is the reigning teacher of the year in Hernando County. She is a health science teacher at Central High School in Brooksville.

“Last year, 51 percent of my evaluation was based on FCAT reading scores for all 9th and 10th graders at Central High,” Brooks said. “However, I don’t teach most of those students.”

FEA President Andy Ford said the plaintiffs are asking that all teacher evaluation rankings for the 2011-12 school year be set aside and Florida’s evaluation process be revamped.

“It is simply unfair for teachers to be evaluated using a formula designed to measure learning gains in the FCAT math and reading tests,” Ford said. “These participating teachers have been ranked on the test scores of students they do not teach or in subjects that they do not teach.”

O’Brien said that after the lawsuit was filed the Florida Legislature passed a law stating that teachers should only be evaluated on the students they teach, but it doesn’t say that it must be in a subject they teach. The law also doesn’t address what achievement means, she said. “The question remains, how do you define achievement in non-tested subjects?” she asked.

Digital Learning policy statement heads to RA

The NEA board approved a proposed Policy Statement on Digital Learning on May 3. The policy will come before the Representative Assembly in Atlanta for a final vote. The policy would replace a 2002 policy on the same topic. The new policy encourages the appropriate integration of technology in the classroom to maximize student learning. Committee co-chair Paul Toner, the Massachusetts state president, said, “Our unions have to be at the table negotiating how to implement this technology … We also want to be part of vetting who are good providers and who aren’t.”  (SEE the complete Policy Statement on Digital Learning at the end of this report.)

BRIEFS

Sen. Patti Murray named NEA’s ‘Friend of Education’ for 2013

The NEA announced May 3 that Washington state’s Sen. Patti Murray had been selected as the association’s 2013 “Friend of Education.” Murray’s proven track record over nearly three decades of being an ardent supporter of education was praised. While on the Senate Budget Committee, Murray has worked to reduce federal deficits in a manner that minimizes cuts in federal education funding.

Secretary/Treasurer

Becky Pringle said that total membership was down 1.25 percent this year, a loss of about 38,000 members. Last year, the membership loss at this time was approximately 64,000. NEA does, however, continue to have more than 3 million members.

From a budgeting point of view, NEA is approaching the situation in much the same manner as last year. The focus remains on organizing, protecting state and local affiliates, and continuing the push to “Lead the Professions,” Pringle said.

Vice President

Lily Eskelsen announced the dates for the two 2014 summits. The West will lead off on Jan. 17-19, and the East will follow on Feb. 21-23. The locations of the summits will be announced by the end of summer, she said. NEA is aligning all of the organization’s trainings. The Minority Leadership Training and Women’s Leadership Training will be held either right before or adjacent to the summits, she said. 

Observances

Hawaiian teacher shares his cultural roots

NEA celebrated Asian and Pacific Islanders on May 3 with an inspirational speech by Blaine Kamalani Kia. Through song and a poetry-like recitation of his teaching philosophy, Kia shared his Hawaiian cultural roots.

“I’ve learned what it means to be to sculpt young minds,” the dedicated hula teacher told the educators gathered for the NEA board meeting. “Education is the key to success in the world today.”

In Hawaii, education is understood through nature. And that education starts with knowing and respecting your elders, he said.

Kia used Hawaiian words as touchstones for his spiritual guidance.

Ne’e Papa is learning from your elders,” he said. “Growing together, learning together. That is education.”

Ho’okuku is to form, establish, and build,” he said. “Look to forming a classroom. Teaching and educating must evolve, but you mustn’t lose yourself in it.”

Kia said that forming productive relationships and establishing a productive lifestyle gives purpose. “It allows us to breathe and prosper,” he said.

Ho’ola au is to grow amongst the trees and have a home,” he said. “We are educators … We must become that tree that source for (our students).”

Ke ao lewa is to raise our consciousness,” he said. This teaches us to always look beyond the human form and to connect to a much higher calling and to have compassion for this generation, he said.

Kia said that people spend so much time with their intellect that they sometimes forget about their hearts. “In Hawaii it’s in reverse,” he said. “We lead with our hearts. We seek that which comes from our hearts, which is to educate.”

‘Dreamer’ tells her story—from undocumented to teacher

NEA honored the Hispanic culture on May 4 with a speech by Maria “Gaby” Pacheco. Now a special education teacher, Pacheco was born in Ecuador and came to the U.S. in 1993 as an illegal immigrant.

In 2010, Pacheco walked from Miami to Washington D.C. as part of the “Trail of Dreams,” a movement to bring attention to the Dream Act.

Pacheco’s U.S. story started in Miami. When she arrived in 1993, she had to take a “battery” of tests. Most were to test her English language skills, which weren’t great. But they also tested her in math, and because of her high score she was placed in a gifted program.

She grew to love America and the culture. “From the music to the food, to the bad fast food, I was just one of the students in the classroom,” she said. But in 8th grade she learned that she was undocumented. She found out because after her older sister graduated from high school, she was unable to get into community college because of her immigration status.

“So my dream of going to college was now under threat,” Pacheco said. “I needed to get as much as I could out of school because when I walked out of school after my 12th grade year, that was it.”

Pacheco began arriving early and staying late, sometimes until 8 or 9 at night. “I was involved in everything,” she said.

She recalled that her social studies teacher in high school encouraged her to go to college, and he also kept asking her when she was going to get married so she could become a citizen. Other than that, “As an undocumented person there was nothing I could do to get a green card.”

But Pacheco pushed through. She did manage to get to college and obtain a teaching degree. And it was a student inspired her to join the “Trail of Dreams” and tell her story publicly. The student said, “Ms. Pacheco, I want you to know that you’re the best teacher in the world, and I want you to be my teacher,” he said.

“These words kept me going,” Pacheco said. During the walk, they encountered the KKK in Georgia, and other people told them they were illegals and nothing else.

But she completed that walk on May 1, 2010, and she has continued to fight for the dream of U.S. citizenship.

Last month, Pacheco testified in front of Congress. She told them, “With dignity and faith I surrender my talent, passion, and life, and ask you to give me, my family, and 11 million of us an opportunity to fully integrate and to give us a chance to achieve the American dream.”

NEA vice president Lily Eskelsen praised Pacheco for her courage and bravery in speaking out. She said that making a public statement when you are undocumented is hard.

“It’s a coming out process,” Eskelsen said. “The word illegal is supposed to make us think that they are here to hurt you. She got out in front and used her name and told her story.”

[Credit to Tom Parker, NEA Dir. for Alaska for his articles.]

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NEA Policy Statement on Digital Learning

Introduction

In the fast-paced, worldwide, competitive workplace we now live in, our traditional school models are not capable of meeting the needs of the 21st century student. All students—pre-k through graduate students—need to develop advanced critical thinking and information literacy skills and master new digital tools. At the same time, they need to develop the initiative to become self-directed learners while adapting to the ever-changing digital information landscape.

This shifting landscape creates new opportunities for NEA, our affiliates, our members, and our profession in preschools, elementary and secondary schools, and postsecondary institutions. The appropriate use of technology in education will improve student learning, quality of instruction, and education employee effectiveness, and will provide opportunities to eradicate educational inequities.

Digital technologies create new opportunities for accelerating, expanding, and individualizing learning. Our members and students are already actively engaged in building the schools and campuses of the future—including quality online communities. Increasingly, teachers, faculty, and staff are becoming curriculum designers who orchestrate the delivery of content using multiple instructional methods and technologies both within and beyond the traditional instructional day. Teaching and learning can now occur beyond the limitations of time and space.

NEA embraces this new environment and these new technologies to better prepare our students for college and for 21st century careers.

Ensure Equity to Meet the Needs of Every Student

NEA believes that educational programs and strategies designed to close the achievement and digital gaps must address equity issues related to broadband Internet access, software and technical support, and maintenance. Also, technical support must be adequate to ensure that digital classrooms function properly and reliably for both educators and students. Under our current inequitable system of funding, simply moving to a large scale use of technology in pre-k- 12 and postsecondary education will more likely widen achievement gaps among students than close them. For example, school districts with lower income populations simply will not be able to provide or maintain appropriate and relevant digital tools and resources for their students. We as a nation must address the issues of equity and access in a comprehensive manner in order to see the promise and realize the opportunities that digital learning can provide.

To that end, NEA believes that student learning needs can best be met by public school districts and postsecondary institutions working in collaboration with educators and local Associations to develop comprehensive and thorough digital learning plans that address all the elements of incorporating technology into the instructional program. These plans should be living documents, constantly reviewed and adapted as changing circumstances require, but always keeping the focus on student learning. Implementation of these plans should honor experimentation and creativity as part of the learning process for both educators and students, while always maintaining support for the professional judgment of educators. It is of critical importance that the use of technology is recognized as a tool that assists and enhances the learning process, and is not the driver of the digital learning plan.

These plans also should include the provision of adaptive technologies to meet individual students’ needs, including assistive technology to support students with a variety of disabilities or challenges.

Support and Enhance Educator Professionalism

NEA believes that the increasing use of technology in the classroom will transform the role of educators allowing the educational process to become ever more student centered. This latest transformation is not novel, but part of the continuing evolution of our education system. Educators, as professionals working in the best interests of their students, will continue to adjust and adapt their instructional practice and use of digital technology/tools to meet the needs and enhance the learning of their students.

All educators—pre-k-12 and postsecondary teachers, ESPs, and administrators—should have access to relevant, high-quality, interactive professional development in the integration of digital learning and the use of technology into their instruction and practice. Teachers need access to relevant training on how to use technology and incorporate its use into their instruction, ESPs need access to training on how best to support the use of technology in classrooms, and administrators need training to make informed decisions about purchasing equipment, technology use, course assignments, and personnel assignments. School districts and postsecondary institutions need to ensure that they provide interactive professional development on an ongoing basis, and to provide time for all educators to take advantage of those opportunities. The training needs to address both the basic preparation on how to make the technology work, and how to most effectively incorporate it into the educational program.

Teacher candidates need problem solving and creativity experiences and strategies throughout their pre-service education and regular professional development so they are prepared for using not only the technology of today, but of tomorrow.

In these changing roles, it is important to protect the rights of educators, and to fairly evaluate the accomplishments of educational institutions as a whole. For example, the use of online instruction can dramatically affect the hours, wages, and working conditions of college and university faculty and staff.

Educators and their local Associations need support and assistance in vetting the quality of digital course materials and in developing or accessing trusted digital venues to share best practices and provide support.

Furthermore, education employees should own the copyright to materials that they create in the course of their employment. There should be an appropriate “teacher’s exception” to the “works made for hire” doctrine, pursuant to which works created by education employees in the course of their employment are owned by the employee. This exception should reflect the unique practices and traditions of academia.

All issues relating to copyright ownership of materials created by education employees should be resolved through collective bargaining or other process of bilateral decision-making between the employer and the affiliate.

The ownership rights of education employees who create copyrightable materials should not prevent education employees from making appropriate use of such materials in providing educational services to their students.

Enhance and Enrich Student Learning

Optimal learning environments should neither be totally technology free, nor should they be totally online and devoid of educator interaction. The Association believes that an environment that maximizes student learning will use a “blended” model situated somewhere along a continuum between these two extremes.

NEA believes there is no one perfect blend of technology and traditional forms of delivering education for all students. Every class will need a different blend, and at some level every student needs a different blend. Professional educators are in the best position to determine what combination works best in particular classes and with particular students.

Students’ maturity and developmental status determines how students adapt to the use of digital technology as they continually face more challenging materials. The use of technology in the classroom will help build self-reliance and motivation in students, but it must be appropriate to their developmental and skill level, as determined by professional educators.

As different digital tools are created and used, the impact of technology on traditional socialization roles must be considered. The face-to-face relationship between student and educator is critical to increasing student learning, and students’ interactions with each other are an important part of their socialization into society.

Additionally, assessment and accountability systems need to be carefully developed to ensure academic integrity and accurately measure the impact on students. Sensible guidelines and strategies should be used to ensure students are completing their own online assignments and taking the appropriate assessments.

The Role of the Association in Promoting High Quality Digital Learning

The development and implementation of high quality digital learning must be a top priority of NEA and its affiliates. The Representative Assembly, therefore, directs that NEA demonstrate its support of digital learning by providing leadership and sharing learning opportunities to develop and implement high quality digital learning that enhances instruction and improves student learning. The Representative Assembly strongly encourages NEA to do this work in the field of digital learning in partnership with trusted organizations and experts who can work at the national, state, and local levels to assist states, school districts, colleges and universities, and local Associations in developing their capacity for high quality digital learning.

The Representative Assembly also directs NEA to encourage its members to engage in professional learning that enhances their understanding of how to creatively and appropriately integrate digital tools and high quality digital learning into their instruction. Such professional learning should include sharing of expertise by members who can serve as valuable mentors and professional partners for other members who are new to digital instruction.

The Representative Assembly further directs that NEA work with stakeholders, including parents, students, and policy makers, to seize the opportunities that digital technologies provide. Some educators now have access to the technological tools to further professionalize teaching, vastly enhance and enrich student learning, and meet the individual needs of every student. It is time to ensure that ALL educators have access and are prepared to use these digital tools

If you have questions about the Policy Statement on Digital Learning, contact NEA Director Jim Grimes, a member of the NEA Digital Learning Working Group.

[Credit to Tom Parker, NEA Dir. for Alaska for his articles.]

 

 

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