2015 NEA Ret. Conf. and Rep. Assembly

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2015 NEA RET. ANNUAL MEETING

                          and

   NEA REPRESENTATIVE ASSEMBLY

                                              By Bobbie Margo

 

This year's 32nd NEA Retired Annual Meeting was held at the Hyatt Orlando from June 28-29, 2015.  The theme for this year's meeting was "Unite, Inspire, Lead."  Marilyn Warner, President of the Florida Education Association-Retired extended greetings.  She reminded us that years ago Ponce de Leon was searching in Florida for the "fountain of youth."  Warner stated that in looking around the room, "the fountain of youth is alive and well!"

The day's keynote speakers consisted of a panel of the three top NEA officers-President Lily Eskelsen Garcia, Vice-President Becky Pringle, and Treasurer Princess Moss. Retirees are the fastest growing segment of NEA-306,177-up 6,138 from 2014. (YIPPEE!)  NRLB-No Retiree should be Left Behind-we ALL are important to the health of NEA.  As retirees, we have walked the walk and talked the talk.  We are ready and we are able to work side-by-side with the active educators in our locals.  We must elect policy makers who are pro education. Retirees have the expertise and the wisdom to make this happen.  We, as retirees, are an extension of the NEA family.

On the final day of our retired meeting, business was conducted.  Two $2,000 scholarships from the Jack Kinnamon (Cat in the Hat man) Fund were presented.

Ten new business items were discussed/voted upon.  To date, NEA retirees have raised $35,000+ for the NEA Fund for Children and Public Education.

Mary Kusler, Director NEA Government Relations, was the day's final speaker. Kusler spoke of 1965 as an incredible year!  ESEA (Elementary/Secondary Education Act) head start, Medicare were all born.  We NEED 2015 to be the new 1965!   Congress's attention needs to focus on the re-authorization of ESEA.  A child's zip code should not determine his/her education.  2016 elections-the House will continue to be Republican because of redistricting; the Senate make-up will be a much better year for the Democrats.  And.....it's a Presidential election year!

As an aside, I completed my 6th and final year (termed out) representing the NEA Retired on the NEA Resolutions Committee.  Fast fact:  Judy Rohde was one of six elected to represent the NEA Retired on the NEA Resolutions Committee for the 2016 term.  (way to go Judy!) ED MN-Retired will continue to be represented at the national level.

The NEA Retired Meeting adjourned on Monday June 29.  We all packed up our "stuff" and switched hotels to join our Education Minnesota State Delegation in order to attend the 93rd Annual Representative Assembly-the 152nd Annual Meeting.  Our hotel was the Caribe Royal.  We were located about 7-8 miles from the Convention Center so it was back to depending on shuttle buses for transportation.

The NEA RA was held at the Orlando Orange County Convention Center from July 3-6, 2015.  The first day of business opened with greetings from Andy Ford, President of the Florida Education Association. Ford stated that even though the air outside was hot, humid, icky, sticky (it was pretty nasty)-to put us in a better frame of mind, we needed to use the word "sultry."  Minnesota's own Chelsey Jo Herrig, Chair of the NEA Student Program, led the delegates in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Special guest speaker was Randi Weingarten, President of the AFT.  Weingarten reminded us that women who have made history were NOT well behaved!  Her speech closed with the sobering thought that now for too many families, the American Dream is out of reach.  NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia followed with her speech-stating that we need to give our educators the time, the trust, and the tools to do their job.

Speeches from "Teacher of the Year" Shanna Peeples (English-Texas) and "Education Support Professional of the Year" Janet Eberhardt (California) were well received.  Eberhardt stated that the cooperation of ALL moving parts makes for a successful school. Peeples stressed the need for less testing and more teaching-with research and data supporting this statement.  Research and data are like a bikini-a lot is left uncovered, but the important parts ARE covered!

This year's "Friend of Education Award" went to Paula A. Kerger, President and CEO of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).  PBS is America's largest on-air classroom. Can you say Sesame Street? Throughout the years, the characters from that program have permeated our culture.  Where would we be without Kermit?

We DID have time for business.  Delegates elected (by secret ballot) Shelly Moore (Wisconsin) to the NEA Executive Committee along with 4 at-large ESP individuals to the NEA Board of Directors.  Again by secret ballot, 2 Constitutional Amendments and 4 By-Law Amendments were voted upon.  Discussion "on the floor" for 4 days involved 122 new business items, 3 policy statement amendments, 14 legislative amendments and a number of standing rules and resolutions.  Delegates were even more spendy this year with regard to how much it will actually COST to implement new business items.  The 2014 Rep Assembly spent $821,797.  The 2015 Rep Assembly spent $1,000,000+.

NEA by the numbers:  

1) NEA Fund for Children and Public Education raised $3,000,000

2) There were over 7,000 registered delegates from all 50 states

3)  NEA is the largest union in America-over 3 million members

4)  Business concluded at 7:29 pm on Monday, July 6

5)  the 2016 RA will be held in Washington, DC

On behalf of Julie Jagusch, Larry Koenck, Diane Larson, Walt Munsterman, Judy Rohde, Kathy Stringfield, and myself, we sincerely thank YOU-the members of ED MN Retired for giving us the opportunity to attend NEA. ALL of us were very proud to be representing our state and our retired organization.  We represented you with excitement, enthusiasm, and energy! (even in the heat!)