Afternoon Plenary Session: Group Discussions
Joint Conference Delegates Tackle Toughest Civil Rights Challenges of Our Day
Education is the civil rights issue of 21st Century, and today education is under assault. Budget cuts are starving public schools. More than 250,000 public school employees have been laid off since the onset of the recession. And some states are trying to strip teachers and education support professionals of their collective bargaining rights.
With these challenges in mind, NEA organized, at our 2011 Joint Conference on the Concerns of Minorities and Women, a special session on our civil rights. A distinguished panel of experts briefed us on the state of civil rights among the people they know best. The panelists included: Kim Keenan, General Counsel, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); Thomas Saenz, President and General Counsel, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF); Patricia Schroeder, former Congresswoman, and an outspoken advocate for women’s rights; Philip S. Deloria, Director, American Indian Graduate Center, Inc.; and S. Floyd Mori, Executive Director and CEO, Japanese American Citizens League.
After this comprehensive briefing, the delegates broke up into four groups to discuss the actions that needed to be taken to rectify civil wrongs and advance civil rights. Below is a summary of the extensive notes taken during those breakout sessions. Clearly, the delegates were fully engaged, and common themes and ideas emerged from each group’s discussion, such as the need for us to forge stronger ties with our schools’ communities. It is equally clear the delegates grasped the urgency of the situation we face today in public education, and are ready to take purposeful and principled action in the defense of their students, schools, and colleagues. Download summary. ( 8pp, 297 kb)