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NEA President's Viewpoint Summer 2013

Unleashing the Power of Educators’ Ideas

Raise Your Hand campaign launched to help NEA members become leaders in a national movement for public education.


By NEA President Dennis Van Roekel

When I taught high school math, most students would say that they wanted to make an A, but only some were willing to do what it took to reach that goal. When it comes to the commitment of educators, I have no doubts. I believe that we were drawn to this profession because we passionately want to make a difference in the lives of our students, and that our members are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve that.

But too often we have been forced into futile endeavors like drilling students to take a test, instead of teaching them to think for themselves. Or we have been forced to defend ourselves against attacks that sap our energy and enthusiasm – and, over time, dull our once-bright dreams.

 When I talk to NEA members around the country, they discuss the threats to public education that are occurring in so many states, but they also share hopeful stories about good things that are happening in their schools and districts and other things that they would like to do. Our members already have a powerful vision of what public education ought to be. It is our challenge as an Association to help them realize those aspirations.

 At NEA’s Representative Assembly (RA) in July, NEA launched the Raise Your Hand Campaign—an effort to help educators across the nation become the leaders in a national movement for public education. The campaign kicked off with a day highlighting some of great ways that educators are working through our local associations to improve student success. One of the speakers was Dr. Jerry Weast, former school superintendent in Montgomery County, Md., where minority students are succeeding in AP courses at rates well above the national average. He said collaboration, trust, and stability were keys to that success.

 Attendees to the RA also approved an important bylaw amendment that will provide resources for the campaign and enable more state and local affiliates to undertake initiatives to boost student success. By supporting Raise Your Hand, it will help us unleash the power of our members’ best ideas. That is our obligation as the organization representing our professions. And if we do our part, our members will do theirs.

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