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NEA Members Improve Student Success, Strengthen Education

CEA President Sheila Cohen addressed nearly 9,000 delegates at the NEA RA last week, thanking them for their support

CEA President Sheila Cohen addressed the nearly 9,000 delegates at the NEA RA last week, thanking them for their support in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy.

Nearly 9,000 educators from around the country have made their combined voices heard on behalf of students and public education. NEA members came together for the 151st Annual Meeting and 92nd Representative Assembly (RA) in Atlanta, Georgia, and gave their thoughtful consideration during 12-hour days to 93 new business items, and numerous constitutional bylaws and resolutions.

Delegates approved a $3 annual dues increase that will, in part, go toward providing $6 million in grants to NEA state and local affiliates. The grants, a piece of NEA’s new Raise Your Hand campaign, will support innovative projects and best practices to boost student learning.

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel told delegates, “Our country has no shortage of people with ideas about how schools need to change. It seems that anyone can call themselves an ‘education reformer’—no experience necessary. If we are going to take charge of our own professions, we must move beyond the old debate that has been defined by others. It is time for us to transform public education by taking charge of our own profession.”

NEA Secretary Treasurer Becky Pringle told fellow educators, “Raise your hand if you’re tired of others thinking they know what’s best for our students. It is time to reclaim our profession, our schools, and public education.”

Moments that claimed the spotlight at this year’s RA included the heroism of two Michigan delegates who helped to save the life of a man who fell onto subway tracks during rush hour, and a celebration of Kathleen Roberts, a 98-year-old Massachusetts delegate who has been attending NEA’s Representative Assembly since 1950.

Delegates also took time out to remember the victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting. CEA President Sheila Cohen thanked the thousands of  teachers on behalf of all Connecticut educators.

“Thank you from our very depths for your immediate offers to help and your immediate sentiments of hope, for your emotional outpouring of sympathy and for your generous outpouring of financial support,” she said. “Thank you for your snowflakes, for your crisis and grief management teams, for your lit candles, and for your teddy bears.”

On Saturday, CEA delegates were very moved to find handwritten notes on their seats from members of the Texas delegation in recognition of the Newtown tragedy. Delegates from around the country showed their caring and generosity with contributions to the CEA Sandy Hook Memorial and Scholarship Fund.

All gifts to the Sandy Hook Memorial and Scholarship Fund will go toward scholarships at the University of Connecticut and the creation of a bronze sculpture memorializing the heroism and sacrifice that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Read more about the Fund here.