July 14, 2010

Choice Words from the Chair

As I reflect on the whirlwind days at the Rep Assembly in New Orleans, I'm glad we were there. New Orleans has survived. The students can still stand on corners and play their musical instruments, although they'd like to be allowed to play later into the night. Bourbon Street is alive and well and the music and food and drinks flow richly. I was definitely affected by the air quality, but it was worth the inconvenience. I hope educators spent as much money as they could to help keep this city thriving. Louisiana needs our help. We would be naive to think otherwise. BP workers need our help. Our national work force needs our help. Our international friends at war and internal/international combustion neighboring nations need peace, acceptance and understanding.

Education is our goal and education is our salvation. As we educate each other to issues and situations around the world, we become so much better at making decisions that make a positive difference for our future. Our RA friends are becoming educated to some of our important issues. Peace and Justice Caucus had some wins and more losses at this 2010 New Orleans Rep Assembly.

We tried to lobby for separation of war funds from education funds when Congress sets a budget. We lost, and Senator Harkin is working on that today as I write. Money is the issue. We need to support our troops, but we need to support our troops and bring them home from Iraq and Afghanistan. NEA wants money for our kids. The money is tied to war funding. Sad.

We asked the Assembly to support the right of parents and students to have knowledge and written approval of military recruiting in schools and the access to test scores. It sounded simple. Isn't this a constitutional right of privacy? Our Constitutional rights are slowly eroding but we will continue to educate. Read Arlene Inouye's remarks on our web site to be posted soon with our newsletter. She did a great job presenting this NBI.

We worked for the removal of the troops from Afghanistan and the money to go directly to education here, at home, for the troops, their families, our kids, our future. President Sanchez from CA spoke to the issue. We give thanks for having such great folks on our side and leadership to suggest the strategies. We won an "object to consideration" and we won language modification both by vote. We lost the NBI but President Dennis VanRoekel had to call for division after two voice votes. We're educating. Read Noam Gundle's comments to be posted.

We couldn't come down on the big corporate banks, and we couldn't lobby for a decrease in the medicare eligibility age (single payer health insurance), but we could lobby for legislation to hold companies responsible for actions such as what BP has done to the Gulf. We kept our goal of making children and education our focus for whatever we do and present at the RA. We are here for the future, our children.

I really believe our biggest success is our NEW Executive Board (look for their names and positions on our site). We had competition and we had a full slate of members wanting to promote the NEA Peace and Justice Caucus. We had folks willing and able to go beyond for the good of the whole. Mark Emmons and Tom Yates are two of these folks. Tom Wolfe worked so hard for us, he succumbed to the heat. He has been a tireless leader in getting members. It will take ten members to replace his hard work. Andy Griggs wasn't there, but his hard work lives on.

We lost Gaza flotilla language to the Jewish presence in Iowa, but we gained members from MD and CA. These friends are willing to address and take on an NBI with language to support our need to address the Palestine/Israeli situation that grows in militant strength due to the big money behind the force. Our Education International friends are our support in this issue, too.

We win, we lose, we have friends such as Lisa Ossian and Frank Olbris who have knowledge that can give us new directions and insights. We have the experience of our local speaker, Tracie L. Washington, esq, LA Justice Institute. Please check out her speech and input concerning education in New Orleans in our upcoming newsletter to be published on our national and midwest sites.

Now we look to the future. The attending school youth of New Orleans were our honorees for the Paul Mann Youth Activist Award. Will you find a youth to honor for our future? Look for a postcard with highlights of the RA and keep posted to our website; www.neapeaceandjustice.org and the Midwest site. We need you, many members, many voices to join our peace and justice plight. We need YOU to help educate and carry the message. Our mission statement says it all.

Thank you, all, for this opportunity to make a difference in another way. Anyone who works in education makes a difference every day.

Make a difference in all you do. Support peace and justice.

Nancy Porter, chair

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