Professional Educators

Priority Schools on the Agenda of NEA Convention

Thirty members of the Wyoming Education Association will begin making their way to Chicago next week, joining more than 9,000 colleagues and fellow NEA members  at the 149th Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly (RA) to collaborate on critical issues in public education, including priority schools. Kathryn Valido, president of the WEA, spoke to Sheridan Media this week about the campaign: “Valido says the program has been ‘hugely successful’ in those states that do not fund programs that need funding.”

The largest democratically-elected decision-making body in the world, the Representative Assembly takes place during the final four days of the Annual Meeting. The theme of this year’s Meeting is NEA Standing Strong: for our Students, for our Schools, for America. Before the actual deliberations, debates and decisions of the RA, delegates will meet for a variety of policy and professional development sessions, including several with Priority Schools Campaign workshops and conversations.

At the Joint Conference on the Concerns of Minorities and Women, June 28-29, the theme is Empowerment from Within: Educators Take Action. According to organizers, “at every Joint Conference session in 2011, participants will be asked: “What actions will you take?” Our focus will be more on action, less on analysis. We will identify the actions that affirm who we are and what we stand for. In the past, we have discussed reducing stress. This year, in the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King’s ‘Letter from a Birmingham Jail,’ we will explore actions that create stress—actions that foster such a tension that the people who scorn us will have to listen and will have to negotiate.”

The conference program includes a June 29 “Learning Labs” session entitled Advocate, Organize, Realize: Follow the Priority Schools Campaign Framework to Student Success. The session is led by Dr. Sheila Simmons of NEA, director of the Priority Schools Campaign.

On July 1, NEA’s first ever Day of Learning includes a variety of learning opportunities about critical issues, including PSC. Two of the workshops – Transforming Schools is Union Work and Union Success: Involving the Community in School Transformation feature a local affiliate presidents, state staff, local school leaders and NEA staff.

For WEA’s Valido, the bottom line of the Priority Schools Campaign is a needed resource whether onsite, “on paper” or online as Wyoming is using. As she told her radio audience; The Priority Schools Campaign is “an opportunity for school districts to access resources that the NEA has to help with special needs schools – schools that have high numbers of very challenging students or situations. They can as I said, offer resources both to the school and the teachers.”

— Steve Snider

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