Team NEA, Let's Get it Started!
NEA President Reg Weaver
Every time I come in contact with NEA members—whether it's through the pages of NEA Today, via e-mail, on the phone, or face-to-face—I am sure to do one thing. I convey the immense pride I feel in every single one of NEA's 2.7 million members who have accepted the call to educate our nation's students and children.
As a 35-year veteran teacher, I know the work is tough. I know you don't always get clear signals that you are making a difference. But here's the truth: Team NEA, you are making a difference—in all kinds of ways and in all kinds of places. And what better time than now—at the beginning of a new year—to celebrate our victories and inspire ourselves for the work ahead?
Not On Our Watch!
Led by the California Teachers Association, we helped defeat harmful initiatives backed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. He wanted to increase teacher probations from two to five years, cut school funding by over $4 billion per year, and silence the political voice of unions. We helped to create a powerful grassroots effort that delivered a loss the governor won't soon forget.
In Colorado, our efforts inspired voters to stand up for education and public services by rolling back the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR)—a law that destroyed funding and sent the state to the bottom of national rankings on education, health care, and social services.
"We helped to create a powerful grassroots effort that delivered a loss the governor won't soon forget."
And we helped elect two governors who are friends of public education—Jon Corzine in New Jersey and Tim Kaine in Virginia.
Much More to Do.
With this year's mid-term elections just months away, we must help to elect more friends of public education and prepare for the 2008 presidential race.
Of course, the so-called No Child Left Behind Act will remain at the top of our list of priorities. In November, the court dismissed our lawsuit against the federal government. We charged them with imposing regulations on schools and districts without providing the financial resources to put them in place. According to the court, the government is only prohibited from imposing additional requirements beyond those that are in the statute and failing to pay for them.
But we're not giving up. Congress is considering cuts of $780 million to NCLB programs—reducing funding below the level set three years ago. They are also planning to cut $7 billion in federal assistance for the student loans that help many minority students get ahead.
We will continue to tell Congress and the Administration to fix and fund the law, change its emphasis on standardized testing, and end sanctions that do not help schools improve. We will push even harder for broader curriculum and instruction that focuses on richer academic learning, not test preparation. Finally, we will work for full funding of Title I to ensure that 100 percent of eligible children are served. With reauthorization on the horizon, we want to fix the flaws in NCLB, once and for all.
My friends, we have many challenges ahead. But with you leading the way, we've got more victories coming, too. Every day, you give your all in America's public schools. I know you will never give up when it comes to holding this nation's leaders accountable for their responsibility to America's school children. Best wishes for a wonderful New Year. You are the best! NEA appreciates you and so do I.