July 3, 2011:
For delegates in general, today was a very busy day; and for NEOEA delegates, it was even more so.
This morning’s appearance by Vice President Joe Biden required states to hold abbreviated caucuses: they had been asked to complete their caucuses by 7:30 AM, and President Patricia Frost-Brooks got us on the road on time. An early start didn’t prevent delegates from long delays getting to hear the VP. By the time Ohio delegates arrived at McCormick Place, lines of delegates were already snaking all over the convention center. Although he had been scheduled to begin speaking at 10:30, Vice President Biden began about 11:30, and even then there were hundreds of delegates still in line to get into the hall.
Despite the irritation of the screening procedures, delegates responded warmly to Vice President Biden’s speech (coverage available at http://www.nea.org/grants/am-2011-vp-biden.html, video clip available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYU27Ouy4jA.
Delegates voted in several elections for NEA office. Delegates re-elected President Dennis Van Roekel with 91% of the vote and Vice President Lily Eskelsen with 94% of the vote. In an election which saw several candidates running for two positions on the NEA Executive Committee, Ohio-endorsed Pricess Moss came in first with 68% of the votes, but Earl Wiman (60%) defeated Ohio-endorsed Len Paolillo (45%). In an election to fill five Education Support Professional at-large seats on the NEA Board of Directors, Jim McClure, of the Mentor Cleasified Employees, was re-elected, leading the other candidates with 74% of the votes.
In a diversion from the routine of the RA, delegates were treated to – and participated in – a flash mob: story at http://www.nea.org/grants/bust-a-move-delegate.html, video at http://blip.tv/play/AYLGgyIC.
Delegates acted on New Business Items 9-33. (NBIs are listed at http://www.nea.org/grants/33354.htm.)
- They rejected NBI 18, which would have called on the NEA officers, if the endorsement of President Obama passes, to meet with him not only to deliver the endorsement but also to “strongly and clearly inform him we need him listen regularly to public school educators on all matters of educational policy.”
- They rejected NBI 22, which would have called for the removal of Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education.
- Delegates defeated NBI 30, which would have directed NEA to organize a demonstration “to show support for public education and the importance of protecting public employees’ right to bargain” on the Capitol Mall during the 2012 RA in Washington, DC.
After adjournment, some delegates attended delegate religious services at the convention center (a nondenominational prayer service and a Catholic mass).
Then approximately 120 delegates from NEOEA, Southeastern OEA, and their guests enjoyed a show at Tommy Gun’s Garage, a Roaring Twenties-themed musical dinner theater located on South Wabash. NEOEA delegates Barb Catalano and Chuck Keay were called up onto the stage to participated in the show.
We have been holding NEOEA Nights for many years, but when NEA last met in Chicago (2000), NEOEA delegates didn’t have their own event, opting for an open evening when delegates could choose their own events. Tommy Gun’s was well-received by all who attended: a number said that it was the best NEOEA Night they have attended.