Saturday, July 2, 2011:
This morning’s was the Ohio delegation’s third caucus for 2011, second caucus in Chicago, and the first caucus to start at the unseemly hour of 7:00. The idea is to finish the caucus by 9:00 so that delegates can get to the RA by the time it starts.
For years, the RA started its first day at 11:00; this year, the first day starts at 10:00, and the caucus really needed to end on time. That created pretty severe time pressure throughout the meeting; and this morning, the caucus had plenty to do. It hosted a number of candidates, but it also needed to conduct an election for Ohio’s six seats on the NEA Resolutions Committee and consider its positions on some important New Business Items.
Before consideration of business, Ohio delegates heard from a few speakers.
- Delegates enthusiastically greeted NEA President Dennis Van Roekel, who is running for re-election. As Lily Eskelsen did yesterday, Dennis used his time to promote the importance of the early endorsement of Barack Obama.
- NEA Assistant Executive Director John Stocks presented a report on the national movements against public education and educators.
- OEA Director of Governmental Services Ron Rapp and OEA lobbyist Robert Davis provided a report on the contents of the recently-adopted Ohio budget.
The eight candidates running for Ohio’s six seats on the NEA Resolutions Committee gave their campaign speeches, and the caucus’s elections committee conducted a written ballot.
As delegates were moving to voting areas, OEA President Patricia Frost-Brooks used the time to make some announcements about the preparations for tomorrow’s appearance by Biden. That appearance will require delegates to arrive at McCormick Place early enough to go through security arrangements and be seated by 10:00 tomorrow morning. That, in turn, will require limiting tomorrow’s caucus to a half hour.
Before adjourning for the morning, the caucus finally began its principal work: deciding what positions to recommend to its members on the various business items to come before the RA. To assist with this, the caucus has a Steering Committee which meets an hour before each caucus to consider recommendations to the caucus.
The Steering Committee recommended two New Business Items. There is a tendency for the earliest New Business Items to be more significant than those which come later. New Business Items A and C are pretty significant. NBI A sets out NEA’s program regarding the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. NBI B directs the NEA President to communicate “aggressively, forcefully, and immediately” to President Obama a series of complaints regarding positions taken by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Ohio delegates voted to support both NBIs.
Delegates concurred with the Steering Committee’s recommendation that Ohio support the early endorsement of Barack Obama for re-election. The vote on the early endorsement is scheduled for Monday, July 4.
At the RA, delegates heard the keynote address from President Dennis Van Roekel. The Credentials Committee reported that so far, the RA has 7,321 registered delegates and 4,042 registered non delegates, for a total registration of 11,817.
After adopting the standing rules with some amendments, delegates finally began considering the RA’s business. Delegates considered several New Business Items. (A full report appears at http://www.nea.org/grants/33354.htm,). NBIs A, B, and C all passed.
A preview of the debate on the early endorsement of President Obama was provided by the discussion of New Business Item 1, which would have required the endorsement issue to be settled in a mail ballot after the RA. Although the debate on this proposal was spirited, delegates rejected the NBI.