Delegates to the NEA Representative Assembly (RA) are ready to utilize the power of the burgeoning Red for Ed movement to meet new challenges to public education head on. After a week full of hard work on behalf of the more than 3 million NEA members around the country, CEA members who were elected to represent Connecticut teachers are now heading home from Minneapolis reenergized and ready to share lessons learned with their colleagues.
Educators spent the lion’s share of their time at the Minneapolis Convention Center debating and adopting new policy statements, resolutions, amendments to existing policies, and more than 100 new business items, which, taken together, create a detailed NEA education policy blueprint for the upcoming year.
Some of the new energy fueling educators also comes from the inspiring leaders delegates heard from throughout the six-day event.
NEA Executive Director John Stocks urged the more than 6,000 delegates to “dig deep, keep fighting, keep educating, keep organizing!”
One of the answers to today’s toxic political, economic, and social atmosphere, he said, is union strength and unity.
“This is not our darkest hour,” he said. “Given the context we face as an organization, as professionals and as advocates, I’m here to ask you to search your soul and reflect on what unity and strength mean to you personally and what they mean to this union and our democracy.”
The NEA RA began just days after the Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME, a case bankrolled by corporate interests, which seeks to weaken labor unions and steal the voice of students and teachers.
“What the Red For Ed movement has shown us is that when members and non-members, parents, community, and students stand together, we are a formidable force and together we can fight and win,” Stocks said.
He added, “We need to make our public schools beacons of hope and opportunity for every student in this nation!”
Washington educator Mandy Manning, the 2018 National Teacher of the Year, has committed herself to doing just that. Delegates honored her on Tuesday for her unwavering commitment to immigrant and refugee students.
“In the past month, we have seen children ripped away from their families, families detained indefinitely as a tradeoff for keeping them together, the Supreme Court upholding the President’s xenophobic travel ban, and naturalized citizens now have no assurance they’ll maintain their status. We live and educate in a time when not all students feel wanted, welcomed, loved enough or that they matter,” said Manning, who teaches at Joel E. Ferris High School in Spokane.
Manning introduced two remarkable students to the delegation, Iya and Faaya. Both came to the United States with their families only a few years ago and have thrived in their public schools, thanks in large part to the educators who looked out for them.
“[Students like Iya and Faaya] are showing us how it’s done,” Manning said. “They prove that in our schools we are creating confident, strong citizens, who are collaborative, compassionate, and powerful.”
Several of the more than 100 new business items delegates voted to adopt concern immigration, including one calling on NEA to stand in support of and in solidarity with immigrant families who are separated or incarcerated.