Friday, January 21, 2011

Western Region Leadership Conference

JEA VP Kevin Ball, JEA Executive Board Members Lauren Flygare and Karl McKenzie, and I attended the NEA Western Region Leadership Conference from last Friday evening through last Sunday at the Hilton downtown.  The theme was "Turning Hope into Action, Action into Power".  We met as a state caucus then listened to NEA President Dennis Van Roekel speak at the opening dinner. 

Saturday was spent learning about and then discussing a particular element about the Association.  Political Action, Member Concerns & Representation, Funding Public Education in a Difficult Economy, Education Policy and Membership Organizing were the focus areas.  After focusing on one area all day, we met together to make a plan.  We did this as the Jordan UniServ.  We decided that funding is a huge issue, and we need to get the TEF message out, educate members, and work with legislators to help increase funding for public education in Utah.  One part of this is looking at each work site or building as its own education association with the AR leading the members at that site.  This is an interesting concept we will be looking at further.

Lily Eskelsen was the speaker at lunch on Saturday.  She talked about her visit to Honduras.  While there, she visited with local villagers about how they were working their way out of poverty.  The lessons she learned from them are:
  • focus on assets
  • empower the powerless
  • answers come from within - not from "experts"
  • build a culture of cooperation and support from the bottom up
Watch Lily's video explaining some of her thoughts from Honduras.

She also spoke about the PISA Report that ranks the U.S. 10th in reading, 17th in math, and 12th in science out of 65 nations.  The countries that are outperforming the U.S. are doing exactly the opposite of what we are seeing as part of "education reform".  In other nations, they have equity, no high-stakes tests, no ability grouping, local authority, better teacher preparation, and pre-school. 

Lily is a local, having been Granite Education Association President and UEA President.  You may want to start following her blog, Lily's Blackboard.

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