RA Delegates Head Home Ready to Take Action
On Tuesday, delegates dropped off thousands of postcards addressed to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
Photo by Scott Iskowitz for RA Today
All Rights Reserved. Courtesy of the National Education Association
On last day Friend of Education Ravitch defends public education
July 6, 2010
By Tim Walker
Delegates headed home from the 2010 Representative Assembly fired up and determined to stay united in challenging times. They return home to a lingering economic recession, funding cuts, and one of the most potent anti-union political climates in decades. Even if some of the hope from 2009 may be diminished, delegates stand ready for action.
“If we are not the activists in politics, we will be the victims of politics,” NEA President Dennis Van Roekel told the delegates in his keynote speech on the first day of the RA. “We simply cannot sit it out. There is too much at stake! WE are the people who can stop this madness! WE are the people who can make all public schools great!
It was message carried through the four days by speaker after speaker — Teacher of the Year Sarah Brown Wessling said we need schools where students thrive because of the system, not in spite of it and Greatest Education Governor Martin O’Malley said it was the responsibility of lawmakers to give educators the support and respect they deserve. On the final day, NEA Friend of Education award winner Diane Ravitch electrified the audience with an impassioned call for the defense of public education and the teaching profession.
“The current ‘education reform’ movement is pushing bad ideas,” Ravitch said. “It wants to end tenure and seniority, to silence teachers’ unions, to privatize large sectors of public education. Don’t let it happen!”
But delegates also had opportunities to back these words with actions. On Monday, NEA President Dennis Van Roekel asked delegates to text “SPEAKUP” to 77007 to connect with NEA’s grassroots effort on key issues. Representatives from all 50 states marched up to the stage on Tuesday to deliver thousands of postcards addressed to Education Secretary Arne Duncan outlining the changes they want to see in the ESEA reauthorization.
“What’s great about the RA,” said Maine delegate Deborah Butler, “is that it reminds all of us that we’re all in the same boat. It’s important to remember that we are united and we take that home with us.”
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