Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘NEA president’

NEA Delegates Vote to Endorse President Obama

Delegates at the 2011 NEA RA.

Many Connecticut teachers are grateful to President Barack Obama for keeping class sizes from ballooning and preserving their jobs in recent years through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  They’re not alone, as evidenced today in Chicago as NEA teacher leaders from across the country voted to get behind President Obama in his bid for re-election in 2012.

NEA’s Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly (RA) is being held in Chicago.  On July 4, it’s where teacher delegates voted on a recommendation from NEA’s Political Action Committee to support President Obama. “President Barack Obama shares our vision for a stronger America,” said Dennis Van Roekel, president of NEA.  “He has never wavered from talking about the importance of education or his dedication to a vibrant middle class.” Watch an excerpt of Van Roekel’s speech here.

Read the latest headlines from the NEA RA here, or follow the RA on Facebook. On Twitter use the hashtag #neara11.

On July 3, Vice President Joe Biden met with the 9,000 teachers at the RA in Chicago.   He lambasted what he called an increasingly union-hostile “new” Republican party, raising  the specter of high-profile labor fights picked by Republican governors with public workers unions across the country.

  “There is an organized effort to place blame for budget shortfalls on educators and other public workers. It is one of the biggest scams in modern American history,” Biden said. 
Listen to more of his speech below.

And Rhee Makes Three

Michelle Rhee, controversial superintendent in Washington, DC, announced her resignation Wednesday. Just a few days ago Arne Duncan’s successor in Chicago, Ron Huberman,  announced that he will leave as well based upon Mayor Daley’s surprise decision not to stand for reelection. Also, Mark Roosevelt in Pittsburg announced his departure after five years. Both Roosevelt and Rhee will leave behind newly penned contracts both of which will dramatically change teacher evaluation and compensation.

Although both Roosevelt and Rhee describe themselves as change agents, clearly Rhee has been the darling of those who advocate that disruptive change is the only path to improvement in urban education. Joel Klein remains Chancellor of the New York district, albeit diminished by the drastic drop in test scores which emerged after New York  re-calibrated their state tests. Pittsburg is somewhat of an outlier in that the mayor does not control the schools and Roosevelt worked harder to bring the AFT local into the fold.

What is notable about Roosevelt is how he got to his position in Pittsburg. I knew Mark as a former politician from MA.  He was the House Chair of the Education Committee and I was President of the Massachusetts Teachers Association during a very stormy period of education reform politics in Massachusetts. More to the point, his pathway to the superintendency was through the Broad Superintendents Academy, which is a 10 month boot camp for business executives interested in becoming urban superintendents. Eli Broad, founder of the Academy, is one of the “Billionaire Boys” (as Diane Ravich refers to them – a small group of uber- successful entrepreneurs such as Bill Gates, John Walton, Eli Broad, etc.) By most accounts (including his own), Roosevelt has made significant progress in Pittsburg. He is a finalist to become the president of Antioch College in Ohio, which closed its doors and was purchased by its alumni. So with Mark Roosevelt it will be “been there, done that”.

Rhee’s “take no prisoners” approach is one which sadly resonates with the media and makes her tenure even more noteworthy in its implications for the future. This approach to education reform is premised on a few notions that have most recently been mythologized by NBC with its Education Nation: tenure and teacher unions are the chief obstacles to reforming America’s schools, and monetary incentives will motivate  teachers to improve their ability to raise test scores. If you think this is not true, you need only watch this panel which was part of Education Nation. The panel was “moderated” by Steven Brill, and was ostensibly about attracting and retaining teachers.  Brill’s biases shine through almost immediately. The panel includes a teacher from New York, Michelle Rhee, Geoffrey Canada (CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone), NEA and AFT presidents, and a gentleman from the Gates Foundation.

How We Can Attract Good Apples to Education
Education Nation Panel

If you take the time to watch this, you will see how a powerful set of wrongheaded notions have taken on a life of their own.

ESEA Blueprint Proposal Disappointing

On  Saturday the Obama administration announced the release of its blueprint for reforming the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).  Read the blueprint and find more information from the Department of Education here.

“We’re surprised that the Obama administration’s first attempt to rectify the problems in NCLB appears so inadequate.  For starters, there’s no serious proposal to involve parents in their children’s education,” said CEA Executive Director John Yrchik.

“Instead of inspiring citizens, this proposal raises concerns.  Student need has always played a significant role in delivering federal dollars to local communities.  With the proposal, however, the Administration seems intent on turning its back on some students’ needs by insisting on competition on an unprecedented level.  When it comes to children, the Administration should not be setting some of them up to be financial losers.”

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel testified today before the House Appropriations Committee.  He raised an alarm over the big jump in competitive grants in the Obama administration’s proposed education budget, saying it could compound the economic squeeze in many school districts.

On the plus side, he said, the Obama budget calls for increased overall funding. But “those increases would not reach all students, districts, and states.”

Find out more about ESEA reform from NEA here.

CEA’s Own Recognized at NEA RA

Teacher of the Year Anthony Mullen from Greenwich, CT speaks at the NEA RA today.

Teacher of the Year Anthony Mullen from Greenwich, CT speaks at the NEA RA today.

CEA member, Greenwich Education Association member, and National Teacher of the Year Anthony Mullen, was recognized today at the NEA RA.  CEA delegates were proud to see one of their own in the spotlight.

After 21 years as a New York City police officer, Anthony Mullen decided to “exchange a pair of handcuffs for a set of textbooks,” and for that his students, so many of them inspired to graduate by this Connecticut teacher, can be thankful.

Mullen, who won the National Teacher of the Year award from President Barack Obama this year, told the Representative Assembly today that “the ability to graduate from high school is a fundamental right.”

Every 30 seconds, another student drops out of school, Mullen told the delegates. That’s more than 1 million a year — including a disproportionate number of poor and minority students. “Shouldn’t these shocking statistics be treated as a national crisis rather than a postscript to a failed education?” he asked.

Mullen (third from right) poses with NEA President Dennis Van Roekel (at left) and other education leaders on the pitching mound at PETCO Park. They posed before Van Roekel threw out the first pitch in front of a sold-out crowd for a game between, the San Diego Padres and the Los Angeles Dodgers on the evening of July 3. The park celebrated NEA's "Night at the Ballpark" event that was attended by more than 7,000 NEA delegates.

Mullen (third from right) poses with NEA President Dennis Van Roekel (at left) and other education leaders on the pitching mound at PETCO Park. They posed before Van Roekel threw out the first pitch in front of a sold-out crowd for a game between, the San Diego Padres and the Los Angeles Dodgers on the evening of July 3. The park celebrated NEA’s “Night at the Ballpark” event that was attended by more than 7,000 NEA delegates.

The answer: Yes, of course! The dropout crisis is a chief priority of the NEA. (Learn more about NEA’s efforts to increase graduation rates.)

Mullen became a teacher — joining the faculty of the ARCH School, an alternative education branch of Greenwich High School — so that he could make a real difference in the lives of young adults, he said. And that’s exactly what he does, said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “Tony proves that with passion, perseverance, and professionalism, all of us have the power to make a difference.”

Take, for example, the 16-year-old mother, abandoned by her father, placed in foster care by her mother. “She’s combative, rude and vulgar, the type of person who does not believe the meek will inherit the Earth,” Mullen said. But she’s also a lonely, frightened teenager — and Mullen sees that person and believes in her.

“Every day I’m given a chance to save one child at a time and prevent another dropout,” Mullen told delegates. “These are the riches we are given as teachers and educators.”

Click “read more…” below to see 4th of July photos from the CEA delegation.

Read more

NEA President Welcomes Delegates

President Dennis Van Roekel welcomes delegates.

President Dennis Van Roekel welcomes delegates.

Highlights from the NEA RA today included speeches by NEA President Dennis Van Roekel and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.

Van Roekel called for NEA members to lead the nation in transforming public education as he opened the 88th NEA Representative Assembly.

Delegates listen to Van Roekel.

Delegates listen to Van Roekel.

“We have the kind of opportunity that comes along only once in a lifetime,” Van Roekel said. “An opportunity to transform public education and to realize our great audacious vision: a great public school for every student.”

Delegates answered that call – with early votes that position the Association for action on NCLB and health care reform, and at the forefront of efforts in the country’s high-poverty schools.

New Mexico's Governor Bill Richardson points to his state's delegation after recieveing the "America's Greatest Education Governor Award."

New Mexico's Governor Bill Richardson points to his state's delegation after recieveing the "America's Greatest Education Governor Award."

The NEA RA also honored New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson with its America’s Greatest Education Governor award. Richardson, who raised teacher salaries and increased education funding in his state, as well as provided greater educational opportunities for students through increased pre-K and full-day kindergarten programs, called it “one of the greatest honors I’ve ever received.”

Click “read more…” below for more photos of the CEA delegation at the NEA RA.

Read more

Secretary Duncan Speaks with NEA Members

Education Secretary Arne Duncan address the 2009 NEA Representative Assembly.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan address the 2009 NEA Representative Assembly.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan addressed more than 7,000 educators as part of a town hall exchange today at the NEA RA.

“I know we won’t all agree on everything, but I’m confident there will be more we agree with than not,” Duncan said.  Schools must be the hub of communities, the federal government must increase the number of national certified teachers, and “a union of educators is a positive force that can drive the kind of change that many of our schools need.”

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel noted that he recently visited schools in Connecticut and New York  where he saw what change is possible when there is a strong collaborative relationship among the teachers’ association, the school district and community partners.

“The best way to achieve results is for local unions and other partners to collaborate locally, while thinking globally about what students need to succeed,” Van Roekel said. “I believe that most teachers do an outstanding job, but that shouldn’t stop us from working together to find out what works best.”

NEA members, including Greenwich Education Association member Rae Baczek (2nd row, third from right), greet Secretary Duncan.

NEA members, including Greenwich Education Association member Rae Baczek (2nd row, third from right), greet Secretary Duncan.

NEA President Visits Bridgeport CommPACT Schools

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel heard encouraging reports from teachers, parents and principals during a visit yesterday to two Bridgeport CommPACT schools.  The new school reform experiment in Connecticut’s neediest cities may be the best hope for solving some of the vexing problems of America’s urban schools.

CommPACT, headed by the University of Connecticut’s Neag School of Education, gives individual schools a significant degree of authority to transform themselves from within – a radical shift from the traditional top-down organization of most school systems.

Find out more about CommPACT Schools.

Below are photos of the visit.

Read more