As they worked to set the agenda for the nation’s largest labor union, delegates to the NEA Representative Assembly, including nearly 100 CEA members, considered and debated amendments to the NEA Constitution, bylaws, policy statements, and resolutions—as well as 59 new business items.
Topics related to education justice were front and center, and delegates passed New Business Item A, which calls on NEA to create a task force that identifies the criteria for safe, just, and equitable schools. Other measures call on NEA to work to eradicate institutional racism.
“Our dedicated educators know their job is to educate students with honesty and integrity and to allow them to develop critical-thinking skills based on facts. Educators are committed to teaching the truth about racism, inequities, and social justice in our public schools, in age-appropriate ways, and helping students examine the systems in which we all work and live to help build a better future for everyone,” CEA President Jeff Leake said.
“It is a disservice to our students, our nation’s future leaders, to deny them a complete, honest examination of our nation’s history, including the opportunity to learn about centuries of history that we cannot ignore but must acknowledge,” he continued. “Only by helping students understand our history fully can we expect them to learn from it. In a recent speech delivered in Tulsa, Oklahoma, marking the hundredth year after the Tulsa race massacre, President Biden said, ‘For much too long, the history of what took place here was told in silence, cloaked in darkness.’ He added, ‘We can’t just choose to learn what we want to know and not what we should know.’”
In an op-ed in USA Today, NEA President Becky Pringle shared similar sentiments, “Teaching all of our children–regardless of their race or ZIP code, whether Native or newcomer–means teaching them the truth. It means finding age-appropriate ways to have difficult conversations in the classroom.”
Connecticut delegates considered all items slated to come before the RA together in their caucus before debate on the floor among all delegates. CEA members decided to spearhead an amendment to a resolution to better reflect what teachers need to successfully teach virtually, during the extraordinary circumstances when it may be necessary to do so going forward.
Darien teacher and NEA Director Katy Gale spoke on behalf of the amendment to the resolution, saying that it is essential that local and state education authorities provide both funding and planning time as well as training, devices, infrastructure, and technology to support students and educators with any virtual learning that is to take place. The amendment and resolution passed with overwhelming support.