The Board of Directors met on September 30 through October 1. On October 2nd there was a Board training on Institutional Racism.
NEA Directors and IEA Officers and members attending: Dan Argueta, Joyce Bailey, Eric Brown, Kathi Griffin, Gina Harris, Rainy Kaplan, Cinda Klickna, Al Llorens, Gladys Marquez, Loretta Ragsdell, Mary Ann Rivera, Mae Smith, Tom Tully, Kari Vanderjack, Alex Wallace and David Watts.
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Items discussed: Thank you to Doug Hill, Director from Michigan for writing several of these entries.
Ballot Measure Legislative Crisis Fund (BMLC)
The NEA Board of Directors approved the use of up to $5.9 million from the Ballot Measure Legislative Crisis Fund by three state affiliates who are battling key ballot initiatives in their respective states.
The Massachusetts Teachers Association requested up to $3 million to defeat a ballot measure that would lift the cap on charter schools and allow 12 new charters to be opened annually. “It is a cap that that has not yet been reached in the state, but our opponents wish to push it higher,” Massachusetts Director Tiffany Back told the Board. “We have learned our opponents have vowed to spend even more from this well-funded campaign to lift the cap. … Our polling has been very positive and our members are ready to do the work to defeat this.”
The Georgia Association of Educators requested up to $1.9 million to defeat a ballot proposal that would allow for the state takeover of “failing” schools. Further, the language would allow for a hand-picked political appointee, accountable only to the Governor, to oversee such schools. “The GAE is leading a coalition of like-minded groups,” Georgia Director Daniel Sobczak said. “Our TV ads are up and seem to be working. The media is using our language of “a takeover.” The polling numbers currently show 41% of the voters opposed to this and 39% supporting.”
The Oregon Education Association requested up to $1 million to increase the minimum corporate taxes with sales of over $25 million in state sales. “Fifty-eight students in a kindergarten classroom with a first year teacher,” asked Oregon Director Judy Harris. “One in four students do not graduate on time and one in 10 senior citizens live in poverty. Not surprisingly, Oregon is 50th in the nation in corporate taxes. … Our 45,000 members are fired up and coming together. … We are polling at over 60%.”
Ten dollars of members’ annual NEA dues are directed to the Ballot Measure Legislative Crisis Fund. As of August 31, the BMLC fund’s balance was at a shade more than $44 million.
2017 Leadership Summit
The annual NEA National Leadership Summit is set for February 24-26, 2017, at the Hyatt Regency in Orlando. As if to validate the type of leadership already occurring in school districts across the country, planners of the Summit reported that over 80% of the highest-ever 200-plus session proposal submissions are from NEA members. The total number of session proposals for this year exceeded all combined proposals from previous years. Attendance is expected to approach nearly 1,500 educators this year.
The 2017 Leadership Summit’s theme is Unite, Inspire, Lead: Our Students, Our Union, Our Future. Final planning continues, but once again there are expected to be exciting plenary sessions featuring highly regarded keynote speakers and NEA officers, along with over 120 breakout sessions aligned with NEA strategic goals and priorities.
The Leadership Summit continues to focus on all six NEA Leadership Competencies, 31 themes, and 93 leadership behaviors in the following domains:
- Governance and Leadership
- Leading Our Professions
General Counsel Report
NEA General Counsel Alice O’Brien reported the Supreme Court announced September 30 that it will take up two cases that concern schools.
In Endrew v. Douglas County School District, the court will take up an important special education issue. The Court will try to decide what level of educational benefit a school must provide to comply with the Individual with Disabilities Education Act. The law includes a mandate of a “free and appropriate public education” for every child, but figuring out what that means is tricky. The court will discuss whether “some” improvement meets the law, or whether there should be “meaningful opportunity” for special education students.
In Trinity Lutheran v. Pauley, the Court will tackle questions of whether public money can be spent on religious education. Specifically, it will consider whether a state constitution can draw stricter separation between church and state than the federal constitution. This decision could impact voucher litigation.
O’Brien also noted the Supreme Court currently has only eight justices. The refusal by the Senate to consider the appointment of Justice Merrick Garland for the past 199 days has created a “Constitutional crisis,” she said.
“The legislature has essentially shut down the judiciary, just by refusing to do their job,” O’Brien said. “Supreme Court rulings impact nearly every issue in your life.”
Secretary/Treasurer Princess Moss reported that membership is up by more than 17,000 members this year. She credited the new educator campaign, which focuses on engaging educators in the first years they begin working in schools. NEA’s membership total remains just slightly under 3 million members, but the increase has reversed a downward trend that had been going for the past six years.
The NEA fiscal year ended August 31, and an independent audit is underway.
Moss reported the budget is focused on NEA’s three strategic imperatives. She said that money is spent to “Invest in the Opportunities” like ESSA implementation and fighting against institutional racism; “Build the Capacity” with the new educator campaign; and “Defend the Union” against attacks in elections and legal and legislative threats.
Executive Director Report
Executive Director John Stocks emphasized the work that NEA is doing to engage early career educators. “We want to better understand the professional support that they need to succeed, and it’s beyond the traditional wage, hour, and working conditions,” Stocks said.
Stocks gave the board four specific pieces of advice: “One, focus is essential. Leadership requires making tough choices. It’s a whole lot harder to say NO than to say YES. We know we cannot do everything we’d like to do. We have to start with what we must do. Two, progress can only happen if the NEA-state-local partnership is strong. With it, our power knows no bounds. Without it, we will not survive. Three, building a strong union requires us to bring our members closer to the union so that we can sustain all that comes at us. That requires us to listen deeply to them and understand who they are and what they want from their union. And we must be prepared to respond to what they say once we engage them. Four, even if we’re strong together, we cannot achieve our goals without building strong alliances with parent and community organizations, civil rights and other progressive groups, philanthropic partners, and political donors who share our yearning for a just and equitable society.”
Vice President Becky Pringle said she served on a panel with the Learning Policy Institute that studied teacher shortages. Not surprisingly, the panel found that attrition was the biggest factor impacting the shortage, and reducing attrition would make a greater difference than any other intervention.
Pringle said that report shows the “teacher penalty gap” has grown over the past 10 years which hurts teacher compensation. “It’s growing and getting worse,” she said. “We are looking at what we can do.”
Executive Committee member Shelly Krajacic (WI) updated the board on the Every Student Succeeds Act implementation. NEA members sent in almost 10,000 comments to the U.S. Department of Education this summer about ESSA.
Krajacic said that implementing ESSA is a “Herculean task if you think about all the changes we want to see for our public schools and the plans your states will write.” She encouraged state affiliates and locals to seek out parent partners and community allies.
NEA has created the website: www.getessaright.org to house all the documents that have been produced to assist states and locals with implementation. NEA will host ESSA webinars on Oct. 17 and Nov. 17 hosted by President Lily Eskelsen Garcia.
NBI C Report
In 2015, the NEA Representative Assembly called for an expert panel to study professional growth systems. Last month, the panel released the preliminary report highlights. The title is, “Great Teaching and Learning: Creating the Culture to Support Professional Excellence.”
The report concluded: “Continuous growth toward professional excellence for each teacher is essential if we hope to realize the vision that each student pursues and attains challenging goals for learning.”
But making that happen isn’t easy. The report noted that, “If leaders of a school(or district) becomes bureaucratic and controlling, it will inevitably show up in classrooms thatare less focused on authentic learning and more focused on test preparation, adherence to rules, etc.”
The antidote, the report notes is, “Learning should be the goal that permeates all decisions and actions in the school.” And decisions about professional development should be based on sound learning principles.
Excellence starts with finding and supporting quality teacher candidates. As such, the report calls for NEA and other groups who want to support quality education to help teachers at different phases of their careers.
The report divided teaching into: Aspiring Teachers (those considering enrolling in a teacher preparation program); Preparing Teachers (those in teaching preparation programs); Emerging Teachers (the first two years of teaching culminating with a demonstration of skills needed to receive full licensure); Professional Teachers (this can be an entire career with focus on continuous growth); Accomplished Teachers (those who have reached an outstanding level of performance); and Teacher Leaders (this happens when profession or accomplished teachers undertake to improve student learning by contributing to their school, district, or the larger profession). Within each phase of teaching, the report completely describes the dispositions of a quality teacher.
The panel was chaired by Executive Committee member Shelly Krajacic (WI). She noted that in the past there has been a failure to recognize that a great educator takes risks. “It’s not just acceptable (to take risks),” she said. “It’s expected. Taking on challenges to meet student learning needs is what great teachers do.”
The “keys to transformation,” according to the report, are that teachers should enthusiastically participate in meaningful growth and commit to performance-based assessment of their work. The system of teacher growth should be collaborative, but also support “individual autonomy” as a part of personal transformation.
Krajacic said, “Teachers want control over their profession, and they must have legitimate control.”
The full report will be available to members later this fall.
The Board celebrated two observances at this meeting. The first was the American Indian/Alaskan Native caucus and the 2nd was the Hispanic Caucus observance. The Hispanic observance included a powerful training on Institutional Racism.
In addition, an update on New Business items from the Representative Assembly was shared. nbi-update