The NEA Representative Assembly adjourned yesterday evening in Chicago after four long days of speeches, remembrances, celebrations, awards—and delegates’ hard work on behalf of their students, union, and the teaching profession.
Delegates approved a new policy to ensure safe, just, and equitable schools, and adopted new business items on a range of topics including
- repealing the federal Government Pension Offset and Windfall Elimination Provisions,
- educating members about organizations working to diminish students’ right to honesty in education and teachers’ autonomy,
- disseminating best practices for educators to use in supporting students who have been affected by trauma, and
- advocating for more mental health resources for students and teachers.
[Above, NEA Director Tara Flaherty speaks against a constitutional amendment on the floor of the RA.]
NEA’s highest honor, the Friend of Education Award, went to singer Dolly Parton for her work in early childhood literacy.
Even as she continues her career as a country music legend bringing people together with messages of acceptance and love, Parton is also bringing young children and their parents together with free books.
Parton’s Imagination Library, which launched in 1996, is dedicated to inspiring a love of reading by gifting books free of charge to children from birth to age five, through funding shared by Dolly Parton and local community partners in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and the Republic of Ireland. The books help children who otherwise might have little access to books, come to school having been read the same stories as their more advantaged peers.
“Dolly Parton is a national treasure,” said NEA President Becky Pringle. “In addition to bringing incalculable joy, with a smile like a breath of spring and a soft voice like summer rain, to fans across the world, she has championed literacy, learning and diversity in literature for nearly half a century. In distributing more than 2 million books each month, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has poured a cup of ambition for millions of young children.”
Parton said she started the library in honor of her father who never had the opportunity to learn to read and write. “He saw the program really growing and told me he was prouder of that than of just about anything else I’d ever done,” she said.
Parton said she is happy to accept NEA’s Friend of Education award and thanked NEA members for all they do.
“Together, let’s continue to inspire kids to dream more, care more, learn more, and therefore, be more.”
Watch her message to delegates.