NEA Delegates Arrive in Washington, DC, for 154th Annual Meeting
By: Celeste Busser and Maya Elie
It’s about that time again, when thousands of delegates will arrive in our nation’s capital for the 154th NEA Annual Meeting and 95th Representative Assembly. Embracing this year’s theme of “Unite. Inspire. Lead!: Harnessing the Power of Our Diversity,” more than 7,500 delegates will gather to vote on major issues surrounding public schools, students and teachers and to create an enhanced learning environment nationwide. The decisions made will impact the entire NEA body of nearly 3 million members.
The NEA Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly (RA), also known as the world’s largest democratic deliberative body, takes place this year June 27 – July 4 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Delegates will collectively vote on a strategic plan and budget, resolutions and ways to advance NEA’s legislative program, as well as NEA’s organizational policies. Sessions and workshops will also be available to educators for tackling issues that will help them provide a better learning experience for their students regardless of race, gender, class, immigration status, disability and sexuality.
The NEA 2016 Joint Conference on Concerns of Minorities and Womenbegins June 30, surrounding what is likely the most provocative presidential election in United State’s history from a political standpoint. There, prominent social justice activists Maria Elena Durazo (widely considered one of the nation’s most powerful and savvy organizers) and Dahkota Kicking Bear Brown (the youngest person to serve as the White House’s Indian Education advisor) will speak. Following the speeches, NEA will present the award for Social Justice Activist of the Year. The awardee will be an exceptional NEA member, who possesses the qualities of leadership and organization, as well as the ability to engage parents, educators and their community in advocating for social justice issues that impact students, fellow teachers and those who dwell in their surroundings.
The NEA Student Program will present its second annual LEGACY Project on Friday, July 1, when student member volunteers take part in a series of service projects, including the filling of backpacks with school supplies and encouraging notes, and assist in building 25 “Little Free Libraries” that will be donated to under-served communities.
On Saturday, July 2, and Sunday, July 3, NEA will host aRead Across America “Reading Lounge” at the ballpark during Nationals games. Young Nats fans will have the opportunity to take a selfie with The Cat in the Hat in the photo booth. NEA President Lily Eskelsen García will deliver the national anthem on July 3, before the Nationals take on the Cincinnati Reds. NEA members have the opportunity to purchase discounted ticketsto Nationals games from now until July 6.
Sunday, July 3, is Empowered Educators Day, where attendees will engage in breakout sessions focused on family-community engagement and policy leadership in regards to the Every Student Succeeds Act. Later that evening, 13 human and civil rights leaders within the organization will shine a light on their current activism at the Human and Civil Rights Awards Dinner. The 50th anniversary of NEA’s merger with the American Teachers Association, which represented Black teachers in segregated schools, will also be celebrated. ATA originally created the Human and Civil Rights Awards Dinner that has honored many civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, and César Chavez. When NEA and ATA merged in 1966, NEA chose to carry on this important tradition.
NEA President Lily Eskelsen García will open the RA with the keynote address on July 4, beginning four days of democratic debate and policy-setting for the Association.
It’s an election year in the nation’s capital, and Secretary Hillary Clinton, presumptive Democratic Presidential Nominee, will address delegates on Tuesday, July 5. In October, NEA educators recommended Secretary Clinton in the Democratic Primary.
RA delegates will also be addressed by NEA Executive Director John Stocks, who will speak on the need to give educators an elevated voice in issues affecting teaching and learning; NEA’s Education Support Professional of the Year paraeducator Doreen McGuire-Grigg and the National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes.
NEA will also present its highest honorthe Friend of Education Award to U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) for their work to pass the Every Student Succeeds Act.