In her keynote address to open the NEA Representative Assembly (RA) today, NEA President Lily Eskelsen García told the more than 6,000 educators gathered at the Minneapolis Convention Center, “These are dark days, but Martin Luther King reminded us, ‘…only when it’s dark enough can you see the stars.’ And we have seen true stars align. We have seen the people march and speak up and refuse to be silent and refuse to pretend; we have seen the resistance rise.”
This RA is taking place in the wake of the recent 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. However the Janus case isn’t the only attack educators have been uniting against recently.
Eskelsen García mentioned the many causes educators have spoken up for and gotten involved with this year, including rallies against gun violence, walk-outs to call for increased school funding, and protests against federal immigration policy.
She commended educators in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Colorado, Arizona and North Carolina who have been speaking up and advocating for their students.
Just this past Saturday, NEA delegates, including CEA Vice President Jeff Leake and others from Connecticut, joined in a Minneapolis march protesting federal immigration policy–one of over 700 marches that took place across the country.
After her opening remarks, Eskelsen García yielded the RA stage to a well-known student leader, David Hogg, a recent Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School graduate and advocate for gun and school safety.
“We have been speaking up, mobilizing, and standing strong because our friends and family mean the world to us,” Hogg told the delegates. “We are young and that means we don’t have to accept the status quo. And we never will. We intend to close the gap between the world as it is and what it should be.”
Students are ready and energized, Hogg continued, and they understand that they have the power.