In July, approximately 6,000 members of the National Education Association (NEA) met in Chicago, as well as remotely. Chicago was chosen after a landmark decision to boycott the original NEA Representative Assembly (NEA RA) site of Houston, Texas in 2022, sending a strong message to Texas lawmakers in the wake of the legislation. anti-women and anti-choice voted in one go. – star status.
The RA is one of the union’s most significant events to debate, determine and adopt policy that will guide the national union and its nearly 3.2 million members through the coming school year. Each NEA-affiliated state, including the NJEA, sends a delegation of its members to represent its respective union at the state level.
In her keynote address to delegates on July 2, NEA President Becky Pringle delivered a moving message of hope, resilience and commitment. “You have to act like it’s possible to radically transform the world, and you have to do it all the time,” Pringle said, quoting writer and educator Angela Davis. Without hope for change, change is impossible. “We must share this point of view dear to Professor Davis: whether it is a mind, a heart, a school, a community or our world: transformation is always possible!”
The challenges facing educators, students, and communities today are real and many: crippling shortages of educators, lack of professional compensation, a continuing assault on the curriculum that honestly confronts this nation and openly celebrates LGBTQ+ people.
And yet, despite these challenges, “you have assumed your role as spokesperson for education professionals; you understand that our work is fundamental to this nation, so you have accepted the deep trust placed in us,” Pringle told RA delegates. “You have found a way to resist, even if you cling to joy. Courageous and creative. Prepared and persistent. You hold on to the power of NEA – and NEA stands on the power that is you!
Vice President Kamala Harris to educators: “You are essential to our democracy”
Vice President Kamala Harris praised educators for their commitment to students and social justice, and offered reasons for hope despite the obstacles they face in an electrifying “call to action” speech. action” on Tuesday, July 5.
After pausing to remember the seven people killed and dozens injured in the July 4 shooting in Highland Park near the Chicago RA site, Harris issued a searing indictment of politicians who refuse to make our schools and communities safer with additional common sense legislation. to curb armed violence. “Teachers shouldn’t have to practice barricading a classroom. Teachers shouldn’t have to know how to treat a gunshot wound. And teachers shouldn’t be told that “lives would have been saved if you only had a gun,” Harris said.
Harris also thanked educators for their partnership, praised their commitment to social justice and asked them to continue moving the nation forward.
Initiate change and take a stand
The job of NEA RA delegates is to debate association policies, legislative position statements, resolutions and New Business Items (NBI) that govern the actions of the nation’s largest union. Long hours are spent behind the scenes researching policies and NBIs being presented, talking with policymakers, and making decisions as a state caucus.
Educators are increasingly aware that students need and deserve safe, fair and equitable schools. One NBI really stood out, setting the tone for the rest of the proceedings, and it was led by James Frazier, NJEA Member and NEA Board Member, from Union County. He was one of many educators named to serve on the task force that developed the criteria for the new policy, which continues to build on the association’s existing and ongoing racial and social justice work.
Frazier is excited about the work ahead and how educators can create positive and nurturing school communities for students to thrive in a diverse and interdependent world. Equally important, he is ready to help lead the work of the policy so that today’s educators have the resources, training and support they need to help all students succeed.
“This policy statement empowers the NEA to empower educators to have what they need for safe, fair and equitable education nationwide and to feel supported in their work,” Frazier says. . “In turn, our entire school community will be affected in a positive and empowering way, and our students will leave their community and thrive in the community they go to next. That is what this policy will help to do.
AEN RA delegates adopted the policy statement. This will help students thrive and further solidify the association’s vision that schools are thriving, safe and welcoming spaces for all students, without discrimination against any.
The policy focuses on a variety of actions guided by the following principles:
- Embrace a restorative justice philosophy to create a school climate that rejects criminalization and police surveillance of students.
- Provide training and support for culturally competent teaching.
- Develop and implement plans to end disparities in disciplinary and behavioral practices.
- Create a community-centered school environment to foster safe and positive environments and involve all members of the public school.
NJ delegates elected for national seats
During the NEA RA, delegates are also responsible for electing the leadership of the association, which this year included three three-year seats and one one-year seat on the NEA Executive Committee. Several NJEA and NJREA members have been elected to national seats.
Christine Sampson-Clark, Mercer County Steward and Trenton Public Schools teacher, was re-elected to a three-year term on the NEA’s executive committee.
“I am honored to continue my advocacy work and represent the voices of my fellow education professionals in my second term on the NEA Executive Committee,” said Sampson-Clark. “I believe it is my duty to promote excellence in education for our students and educators. As an educator, activist, and community activist, Sampson-Clark is dedicated to raising issues on the national agenda that are important to students and NEA members. She is also committed to quality and equity in public education and encourages members to work collectively.
Previously, Sampson-Clark served on the NEA Board of Trustees, serving as chair of several NEA boards and committees, including the NEA Board Black Caucus and the NEA Friends of Education Committee. . This is his second three-year term on the NEA Executive Committee.
Lois Yukna, a member of the Middlesex County Education Association and NJEA delegate, has been elected Chair of the National Council of Educational Support Professionals (NCESP) for the next three years by her fellow NCESP members. His term begins on September 1, 2022.
“It is indeed an honor and I am delighted to advance the work of the council,” Yukna said. “The voices of our ESPs must be at the forefront of our work. We represent not only the school staff, but also the students. Our experience and knowledge are essential in creating environments in which our students feel safe and can thrive within their communities.
Yukna is President of the Middlesex County Education Association, a member of the Woodbridge Township Education Association Executive Committee, the NJEA Executive Committee and is the 2017 NJEA ESP of the Year. Yukna previously served as secretary of NCESP.
A fervent defender of all members, she rose through the ranks of the association. Yukna’s association experience began with her graduation from the NJEA Labor School and the NJEA Bolivar L. Graham Practitioner Apprentice Program. She is an accomplished leader at the local level and has held key leadership positions at the county, state and national levels. She embodies the true essence of an education support professional in all aspects of her work and will proudly serve our national members.