Connecticut teachers have arrived in Chicago and are ready to get down to business at the NEA Representative Assembly (RA). The NEA RA is the world’s largest democratic deliberative assembly. It is the primary legislative and policymaking body of the NEA and consists of some 9,000 delegates.
Members of every state affiliate elect the delegates who represent them at the RA, and the democratic nature of NEA is highly valued by those delegates.
Kim Patella, President of the New Milford Education Association, is a delegate to the RA for the second time this year. She says, “I decided to attend this year because I am tired of people with little, if any, experience in the classroom having an undue influence on our profession. They have little understanding of teaching.” Kim indicates that teachers need to stand together and use their collective knowledge and experience to positively influence education.
Kim joins 133 other CEA members who make up this year’s Connecticut delegation. Every year new delegates mix with those who have attended several times. Delegates regularly say the chance to meet and talk with new people, from Connecticut and around the nation, is one of their favorite parts of the RA.
Mike Breen is one of Connecticut’s new delegates this year. A Vernon Education Association member, he says he is looking forward to the opportunity to “find out what is happening in other states and nationally.” Mike used to live in Chicago and is pleased that the location of this year’s RA allows him to visit with friends from his days in Illinois.
Days at the RA are long. As Stonington Education Association Vice President Michael Freeman said about last year’s RA, “Our meetings last from 6 in the morning until 5 or 6 at night, and I found myself in bed by 9 or 10 so I had the energy to do it all again the next day.”
Delegates who can get by on little sleep try to spend some time seeing their host city after business is over for the day. Some CEA members arrived in time to head to Wrigley field and see the Cubs play the Giants this afternoon.
Much work happens before the official beginning of the Representative Assembly on Saturday. The National Council of Urban Education Associations Meeting, the NEA Joint Conference on Concerns of Minorities and Women, NEA Student Leadership Conference, and the NEA-Retired Annual Meeting all take place over the last days of June.
At this year’s NEA-Retired Annual Meeting, the CEA Retired website received the first place award for best website. Congratulations CEA Retired!