Kirstin attended the National Education Association’s Representative Assembly for the first time this year, and shares some of her impressions.
The Idaho Caucus started at seven o’clock sharp that first morning and there wasn’t much chit chat before we dove into RA Today, the “newspaper”, which included proposed changes to the Constitution of the NEA and the New Business Items that were developed by educators like me. So. Much. Information. So many opinions. The debate that ensued on the floor was jaw-dropping. I think I had tunnel vision before RA. How different could it be for teachers around the country? I mean, really, we have the same job, right? So very wrong. There were approximately 8,000 representatives there from 52 states and educational entities. 8,000 points of view. 8,000 opinions. And at least 8,000 times that I asked someone next to me (who wasn’t a rookie): “Why…?”
The democratic process on that kind of scale was impressive to watch. NEA President, Lily Eskelsen Garcia, handled it all with such grace and poise. 159 new business items were presented, most were debated. Sometimes there wasn’t much discussion, like the item that asked the NEA to develop and provide resources to help teachers with suicide awareness and prevention (this was adopted). Then we spent an hour debating whether or not the NEA should take a position on allowing fast food restaurants to organize fundraisers with teachers for our schools (this was not adopted).
The beauty of it all was that despite the opinion you held, your idea was at least presented. Ideas for and against it were discussed. Civilly. Maturely. Not at all like how we see our democratic process played out in the media. It opened my eyes to some the issues that Idaho doesn’t have and some that are likely coming our way. Hopefully I’ll be able to attend again and be a little less bug-eyed and a lot better informed.
Idaho Falls EA