Today’s caucus featured the annual election of Resolutions Committee members. Each state has as many Resolutions Committee members as it has NEA Directors; both are allocated according to state NEA membership. Ohio has six members, and seven candidates had filed at the first state caucus in Columbus on June 1. At today’s caucus, the seven candidates had their opportunity to speak to the delegates, and six were elected. The six elected included NEOEA’s Hasheen Wilson, of YSU-ACE. Congratulations, Hasheen!
Then delegates headed to the Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC) for the first day of the Representative Assembly. As usual, delegates entered the hall to deafening music. This first entrance of the year is an important moment for all delegates, but especially for new ones: the sight of (this year) over 7,000 delegates and several hundred others on the convention floor is always a powerful sign of the democratic tradition in which NEA takes such pride.
Standing Rule Amendments are always among the first items to be considered, and seems logical: the first thing the RA needs to do is to determine the rules under which it will operate. This year’s SRAs took an unusual amount of time.
1) For example, a perennial topic in these discussions is the parliamentary Objection to Consideration. A parliamentary rule establishes that an Objection cannot be raised to an amendment. (The logic behind that rule is beyond the scope of this column.) Since amendments to NEA’s Legislative Program are handled just like main motions, delegates approved a change which will permit Objections to those amendments.
2) Delegates agreed to an SRA permitting proposed amendments to be submitted electronically. (Standing Rules had previously required that they be submitted by mail.)
3) Each item submitted to the RA lists a contact whom delegates can ask for further information about the item. A final SRA will permit (with permission) the publication of the email address of that contact person.
Following these decisions, delegates heard from NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. He made a strong appeal for educators to take responsibility for educational standards and practices, and condemned the current infatuation with bogus reform: “Let’s be clear about this. We are not resistant to change. And we are not satisfied with the status quo. But we will resist short-sighted and damaging solutions for one simple reason –THEY DON’T WORK FOR STUDENTS!”
In the afternoon session, delegates considered five New Business Items: NBIs A and B and NBIs 1, 2, and 3. (NBIs proposed before the RA by the NEA Board of Directors are lettered; the RA considers them before considering the numbered NBIs, which come from delegates.)
NBI #1 was submitted by Lakewood TA delegate Abby Wollenberg. In a modified form, it was enacted by the delegates, so Abbey’s batting record is pretty high. The text of the NBI reads:
“NEA will use Person-First Language (ex. ‘students with special needs’) in all future written and oral communications and/or publications and promote the use of Person-First Language to members and the public via electronic communications and other social media.”
(For information about the NBIs, go to nea.org/grants/33354.htm).
Following consideration of NBI, delegates honored Senator Patty Murray (D-Washington) as NEA’s Friend of Education for 2013. “I am so honored to receive the Friend of Education Award from the National Education Association,” Murray told the delegates in a video message. “As a former pre-school teacher, a former school board member, and a mom who actively participated in my own children’s education, I know how important education is to the future of this country. And I am proud to be your partner in the U.S. Senate.” For more information about Senator Murray’s award, go to nea.org/grants/55978.htm.
Tomorrow’s (Thursday’s) session will include the delegates’ Fourth of July celebration and two periods for consideration of New Business Items.