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The Time is Now to Protect Democracy

At the 2022 NEA-Retired Annual Meeting, members feel their power and purpose
Published: 04/01/2022
NEA-Retired President Sarah Borgman delivers the keynote address.
NEA-Retired President Sarah Borgman delivers the keynote address. Credit: Jack Delulio

“It’s about time for us all to be together!” proclaimed NEA-Retired President Sarah Borgman, as she addressed the first in-person NEA-Retired Annual Meeting in two years. Gathering in Chicago, on July 29 and 30, some 316 delegates participated in a hybrid format—in person and virtually—representing the 324,000 members of NEA-Retired. 

The meeting convened against a complex backdrop of national issues: June Supreme Court rulings that overturned Roe v. Wade, expanded school vouchers, enabled school prayer, and loosened gun laws; the May school shooting in Uvalde, Texas; ongoing election denials; and organized attacks on democracy and honesty in education. 

With these disturbing events on everyone’s minds, Borgman said, “it’s about time” for state and local associations to take on racial and social justice, and “it’s about time to stop the insane murdering of our students and teachers. … We cannot give up, because our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren are at stake.”

‘Progress is never linear’

NEA leaders echoed these themes. “You know that the battle from one generation to the next continues, progress is never linear,” NEA President Becky Pringle told the crowd. “In this critical moment, we should all remember that it was educators who led this nation to the polls in 2020 and put a friend of public education in the White House,” she continued, noting that the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan delivered the single largest investment in our public schools ever.  

Pringle also credited the nearly 60,000 NEA and NEA-Retired members who emailed Congress, urging passage of the bipartisan gun safety legislation that President Joe Biden signed into law on June 25. 

Three Things You Can Do

 NEA Vice President Princess Moss called on NEA-Retired members to do three things to save democracy in America: 

  1. Think about running for public office;  
  2. Become an election observer or serve on a local election board; and
  3. Contribute to the NEA Fund for Children and Public Education—a political action committee (PAC) that helps elect candidates who stand with public schools. 

To contribute, go to

Democracy is on the ballot

Secretary-Treasurer Noel Candelaria saluted our nation’s veterans, saying, “Our veterans represent every geographic corner of our nation and every shade of humankind. … They have always believed that freedom is for everyone.”

At the end of the day, it all comes back to elections, said Mary Kusler, director of NEA’s Center for Advocacy. “The [November] elections are truly at their core about the life and death of democracy,” she said. 

Support for the next generation of educators

NEA-Retired also awarded five aspiring educators with Jack Kinnaman Memorial Scholarships of $3,500 per student. The winners are: Jaclyn E. Deal, Wingate University, North Carolina; Hannah St. Clair, University of Oregon; Roman Trejo, Saint Xavier University, Illinois; Sofia Vandersluis, University of Wisconsin, Madison; and Dajsha Williams, Ohio State University. To donate, go to 

New NEA-Retired leaders

Some top positions in NEA-Retired were up for election this year: vice president; two seats on the executive council; and two NEA-Retired positions on the NEA Board of Directors. Because some attended the meeting remotely, voting took place by mail. At press time, voting for these positions was still underway. Check for results. 

Congratulations go to Diane Larson, from Minnesota, who ran unopposed for the NEA-Retired alternate position on the NEA Board of Directors, and to the newly elected NEA-Retired members of the NEA Resolutions Committee for 2022 – 2023: Ginny Boss, from Wisconsin; Pat Jordan, from Connecticut; Gary McGrane, from Maine; Bobby J. Pierson, from Alabama; Kathleen Purdy, from Ohio; and Karen Solheim, from Georgia.

NEA-Retired shared many moments of celebration, but none more meaningful than on the second day of the meeting—at noon on June 30—when the assembly paused as Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn in to be the first African American woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. One phrase sums up this historic moment: It’s about time.   

To find out how you can protect democracy, download NEA’s EdActivist app.

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