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President’s Viewpoint – NEA’s RA—Always Inspiring!


Photo by NEA/Calvin Knight

NEA’s Representative Assembly always inspires and energizes me, and this year’s event in New Orleans was no exception. The theme was “Turning Hope into Action,” with an emphasis on things every member can do to make a difference.

In these tough economic times we must fight to protect the interests of our members—but that isn’t enough. We also must seize a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform public education so we can move toward our vision of a Great Public School for Every Student.

One of the most visible actions at the RA was when thousands of members filled out postcards with their ideas for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Our members know we must leave behind the failed policies of No Child Left Behind, especially the misguided emphasis on standardized testing. This summer I will deliver these thousands of suggestions to the U.S. Department of Education.

I also called on each state to develop plans for a Day of Action before the end of September, to send a message to their members of Congress who will vote on ESEA.

Whether that action involves dozens of members personally visiting a Congressional office, thousands of emails, or a rally, each state needs to do something. State leaders will develop their own plans according to what will work best for them. The important thing is to give every member a chance to be heard, and to ensure that every member of Congress gets the message.

Finally, I announced the creation of the NEA Commission on Effective Teachers and Teaching. I envision that this panel will examine critical issues facing our profession, and make suggestions about how educators can advance our profession and better serve our students.

Instead of reacting to ideas from people who have never stood in front of a classroom, I want teachers and research to drive the transformation of public education. I hope the commission will guide us to determine what we must do to exercise more control over areas such as teacher training, induction, and licensure … professional development … and evaluation of educators. This commission will issue a public report, from which NEA will develop recommendations that will come to our RA next summer in Chicago.

My fellow NEA members, this is our time to take back control of our profession and change the world for our students. It is our time to turn hope into action!

NEA Priority Schools

As I have traveled across the country over the past two years, I have been inspired by the work local NEA affiliates are doing to transform schools that were once struggling. Working in collaboration with local districts, community groups, businesses, and other allies of public education, NEA members are improving student learning and making a difference in thousands of lives. This is what our Priority Schools Campaign is all about.

I will highlight some of these programs later this summer when students return to school. Please visit NEA's Priority Schools for more information.

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel


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