Updates by Amy Galloway
The official opening of the Representative Assembly (RA) of the NEA was exciting and energetic as usual. Many presentations were made by the NEA executive staff. Lily Eskelsen-Garcia, the vice president of the NEA, sang the National Anthem for us while playing guitar. She is a multi-talented woman!
Dennis Van Roekel, the NEA president, gave his last speech as president of the NEA. It was very inspirational and let us know about the future of our organization. Some of the highlights are as follows:
• NEA change is not linear. Change happens slowly but there’s a special event and change happens quickly.
• We must be the advocates and protectors of public education.
• We need to define solutions that drive excellence and success for all students.
• NCLB became and insidious tool to undermine education.
• Educators are being attacked at every turn and our lives revolve around testing.
• We are all demoralized by these attacks no matter if you are an ESP, teacher, or administrator.
• We are at another critical point and milestone in our history.
• Preceeding NCLB we allowed the politicians to direct NCLB. But, as the NEA we can’t allow politicians to define the next generation of education and accountability. We, the educators, must define the solutions and we must lead.
• We must choose the right strategy that can deliver on our mission: to prepare every student to succeed.
• We must create an equitable, student-centered strategy that is led by NEA.
• This transformation will be rocky and at times controversial. However, there must be progress.
• We must stand against the overwhelming and harmful testing of students.
On the second day of RA and as our organization moves forward, we elected Lily Eskelsen-Garcia as the next NEA president and Becky Pringle as the next NEA vice president. Both were elected with over 90% of the vote in their favor. These two ladies were endorsed by our Idaho delegates. In my opinion, they will do a wonderful job in moving our organization forward and championing the cause of ending the toxic over-testing of our students.
The first day of RA here in beautiful Denver, CO was filled with caucus meetings. We met with both our Idaho caucus and the TNT caucus which encompasses Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, and North Dakota. During our TNT caucus we heard from the candidates who are running for NEA leadership positions. The most inspiring speakers were Lily Eskelsen-Garcia, who is running for NEA president and Becky Pringle who is running for NEA vice president. These ladies both received overwhelming support from the TNT caucus and hopefully will do well to lead our organization in the coming years if they are elected. Their main focus seemed to be on ending the seemingly endless high stakes testing of our students. As we move forward, it will be interesting to see how this will affect things like the SBAC and ISAT. On the second day of RA we spent time registering and then attended various meetings during the day. A highlight of the day was getting to meet folks from many other states as we wandered around the NEA expo. My group spoke to educators from New Jersey and South Carolina specifically. We learned of their challenges and triumphs which were both different and similar to the challenges and triumphs that we experience in Idaho. I’ve found that educators are a friendly bunch and love to talk about our profession! That’s one of the inspiring parts of being at the NEA RA!