Friday, December 2, 2011

NCUEA Conference Day 2

This morning I attended the NEA budget hearing. We discussed the importance of the UniServ program, training for local leaders, and membership grants.

I had a chance to talk to Lily about how she and her family are doing. She said Jared is out of prison and working as an assistant diesel mechanic in North Dakota. She said her whole family was together for Thanksgiving. Lily believes the letters Jared received when Ruel died gave him the opportunity to evaluate and change his outlook on life. She is pleased with Jared's progress.

NEA President Dennis VanRoekel is the opening speaker today. He talked about success in New Hampshire and Ohio. We need to take away from our opponents what the are using to hurt us. Strategy must be flexible enough to change with what is happening right now. Mission and vision do not change. Advocating for education professionals is still part of the mission, we just may have to go about it differently. We need to get members to believe in our mission enough to buy in and support us.

Becky Pringle, NEA Secretary-Treasurer, is running for re-election. She quoted a teacher from Kansas who said, "When the work changes, unions die." NEA needs to change as the work of teaching and organizing changes. Let's have some fun re-envisioning NEA.

Greg Johnson is running for re-election to the NEA Executive Committee. He was in awe of his opportunity to meet President Obama and be there when he introduced Race to the Top. His wife is a local president who teaches elementary music. We stand for our students and for our members who do things that can't be measured on a standardized test.  Joyce Powell is running for re-election to the NEA Executive Committee. Has been local and state president in New Jersey. She helped organize rallies in Wisconsin. The reason we do this work is to make a difference.

NCUEA mission statement was adopted. "NCUEA shall promote and advance high-quality Public Education in urban schools by empowering and supporting Local Associations, Leaders, and Members."

Teacher evaluation and accountability presentation. NEA will lead the charge for quality in education professionals. UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh and Susan McFarland, Salt Lake Teachers Association, were on the committee that developed these concepts.  Urgency is due to legislative attacks. Need to share and leverage collective resources within NEA.  The committee report is being released on December 8.  Tests results should only be used if they are valid, reliable and developmentally appropriate, and adopted cooperatively. Should become a career teacher if meeting expectations on their final evaluation.  Looked at Peer Assistance and Review (PAR) around country. Developing an electronic book including fair dismissal, evaluation, and PAR along with research about why we should consider these ideas.  Teachers need to be trained on new components of evaluation systems. Collaborate with District. Take advantage of poorly written laws. Principals need to be trained in how to administer Evaluations. Principals should also be evaluated. Some growth models are good, but must be determined in different areas (elementary special education versus high school AP English) where growth looks different in each area.

I attended a meeting for local presidents with NEA President Dennis VanRoekel. These notes are a little disjointed, but follow how the conversation went.  He is discussing the Common Core. Communications is currently designed around distribution of information. He is trying to tap into ways to learn about what locals are doing. Find a way to share what other locals are doing. 

Dennis talked about Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and President Obama. CHIP now covers more children. More people with pre-existing conditions are covered with new health care law. Harder to track where republican money comes from. There are a lot of messages out there that are negative.  Colleagues need to share with each other why they support Obama. We need to reverse the negative impressions of health care law. We can use VAN to target certain groups. Question on how to know which groups to target. More decisions need to be made at local level. We need tools to help newer leaders learn how find answers.  Problem with transition plan to Common Core. New tests will not be available until 2013-14 school year, so do you teach the Core or to the old test? That is what the NCLB waivers are for. 

What can we do to improve teachers' professional, daily lives? Why go to college when District tells them what time to be on what page and what script to read?   Republican attacks are not about education, they're about privatization and profit.  Communication is important. Younger teachers expect immediate and timely information. It is our profession, we are the ones who know, and we need to take it back. We need to use stories and "I" messages, because the press can't be refute them. We need to work with state leaders to share info with local leaders. Every training should be focused on organizing. Locals need research help.  Local leaders need to be ready for decisions. We need to actively participate at District level so they hear teacher concerns.

Powerful when the association, district, and parents work together to improve schools. Education is not a partisan issue.  It is difficult to bring groups together, but it is a better way to collaborate. Sometimes the best spokesperson is not the local president but a classroom teacher or a parent. We need to share our story about public education being the promise of the future of America. Share why you are a member of JEA one-on-one with non-JEA members. 

We know how to help students succeed. We just need to do it. How policies impact us varies by location. We need to send a single message, not mixed messages, about standardized test scores. We believe in multiple measures of student growth, and teachers should be defining student learning at local level.  It is important to look at training, recruitment, induction and retention of new teachers. Mentors need to meet with new teachers weekly. These are things that Teach For America is doing well. It has been an interesting discussion of local presidents from across the country and Dennis.

The afternoon session I attended is on creating a local website to maximize communications. What was presented is much larger than what I was anticipating. There is a complete document management system where historical documents can be scanned and key word, name, school, or date retrievable.  Secure website is good for member only items. Some will still get back to administration or school board. Maintain a public site as well. Have advertising on website to eventually fund all technology. Have member information come up when member logs in for them to verify and edit as needed.

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