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2010 RA Kicks Off With Van Roekel Call to Action

MItch Landrieu, Mayor of New Orleans during Opening Day at 2010 NEA Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly.

Photo by Calvin Knight for RA Today
Copyright Copyright © 2010 NEA

Nearly 8,500 delegates begin to set policy, honor activists & chart future of education

July 3, 2010

By Tim Walker

After weeks of build-up that included an enormous legislative success in Congress, NEA members were ready Saturday to keep turning ”Hope Into Action” for the 89th Representative Assembly. With an exuberant kickoff the nearly 8,500 delegates in attendance began what will be four days of setting policy for the organization, honoring education activists from across the country and around the globe, and preparing to shape the conversation about how to best improve schools in the years to come.

After welcoming remarks from New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, NEA President Dennis Van Roekel launched the RA with his rousing keynote address, urging the cheering delegates to “speak up, take action, and fight for the students of America! We simply cannot sit it out … there is too much at stake.”

Delegates answered that call with early votes that position the Association for action on ESEA reauthorization, immigration reform, and academic integrity in the face of political agendas.

Van Roekel also paid tribute to past NEA leaders in attendance who helped build the association’s rock-solid foundation: Louis Edinger, George Fischer, Helen Pate-Bain, John Ryor, Mary Hatwood-Futrell, Keith Geiger, Bob Chase, Reg Weaver, Don Cameron, and John Lucas.

Outside the hall, Secretary-Treasurer Becky Pringle participated in Essence Festival’s “State of Education” panel discussion, telling attendees NEA is committed to closing achievement gaps and transforming high-needs schools, but teachers cannot do it alone. Pringle singled out NEA’s priority schools campaign as a model of how teachers, parents and community leaders can work together and transform public schools.

The decisive victory for education jobs in the US House of Representatives last week couldn’t have been done without NEA members, but President Van Roekel took a little time this afternoon to thank a valuable friend who fights for public education, Congressman David Obey of Wisconsin. Van Roekel publicly thanked Obey, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, for his critical leadership in securing the passage in the House of Representatives of funding that will save an estimated 138,000 educator jobs. Van Roekel led the delegates in a chant of “Thank you Chairman Obey!” and reminded them the fight isn’t over.

“It’s now time for the Senate to do the right thing!”

And speaking of Congressional action, Vice-President Lily Eskelsen spotlighted the NEA Fund for Children and Public Education - the voluntary PAC fund that supports public education friendly candidates - a little differently his year. Instead of a video or a speech touting the benefits of the PAC, Eskelsen introduced delegates to five children of RA delegates or “RA Babies.”

“They belong to all of us,” Esekelsen said. “and they remind us – as we’re discussing NBIs and budgets and politics – that we are fighting for a world that will be worthy of their dreams.”

For more information on the education jobs fund, visit Education Votes.

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