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Empowering Teachers and Creating Change

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel sounded a note familiar to CEA members in his NEA RA keynote address: It’s time to give teachers a meaningful role in school improvement.

CEA has consistently raised public awareness about this issue—from TV advertisements, to public remarks, to member communications.  By recognizing teachers’ professional status, communities can work together to create positive change for students in their schools and classrooms—ensuring great public schools for every student.

Van Rokel told NEA RA delegates on Wednesday, “We educate America. It’s what we do every day as individuals, but also what we do together as an organization … working to lead our profession and taking responsibility for our professional practice.”

Van Roekel referenced legislative attacks on unions and attempts to privatize education by corporate “education reformers,” and pressed delegates to keep fighting for their students and schools. He urged delegates to raise their hands, step up, and speak up, as “it is time for us to transform public education by taking charge of our own profession.  Now we must use all of our power, individually and collectively, to do the thing that is most important to every single one of us: help our students succeed.”

“This is about educators as leaders, not just doers. It’s about making policy decisions, not merely carrying out someone else’s ideas. It’s about leveraging our work, so that it becomes greater than the sum of all our own individual efforts,” the Arizona math teacher told the packed hall of educators.

“It will take courage for us to raise our hands today and show the nation that NEA, the largest labor union in the country, is committed to change—that we take responsibility for student success and that we will empower our members to make those changes,” Van Roekel said.

Full Text Transcript of  President Van Roekel’s Speech

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