NEA delegates tackle tough issues at 2005 Annual Meeting

Washington, D.C. -- Delegates to the 2005 National Education Association (NEA) Annual Meeting will convene in Los Angeles, July 1-6, with one goal in mind: charting a course for improving American public education.

Among the chief items of business at this year's convention is mobilizing NEA members around an agenda focused on closing the student achievement gaps, boosting outreach to minority communities, bringing professionalism to educator pay, and fixing and funding the so-called No Child Left Behind law.

With a flurry of debate over these pressing education issues serving as a backdrop, NEA heads into this year's Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly (RA) at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

The first two days of the Annual Meeting, July 1-2, are devoted to a wide range of forums, conferences, and exhibits. Over the next four days, July 3-6, the NEA RA will deliberate on issues that impact public education and set Association policy and activities for the year ahead. The RA is the highest decision-making body within the 2.7 million-member Association.

More than 9,000 NEA delegates, who come from every state in the nation, are elected by their local and state colleagues. They represent all facets of the public education workforce, including elementary and secondary teachers, education support professionals, school administrators and other Association members.

Highlights 2005 NEA Annual Meeting and Pre-Convention Activities:

"Outreach To Teach" Project. More than 300 NEA members will descend on a Compton middle school to paint, repair, landscape, and make other improvements. The event represents NEA's ongoing commitment to boosting student achievement in urban communities and is sponsored each year in the host city or area where the RA is held.

JUNE 28-29
The Joint Conference on Concerns of Minorities and Women will bring nearly 1,000 educators together to explore the latest trends in education policy and classroom instruction that have proven effective in teaching minority students. This year the conference will feature a special presentation on Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) students.

Discussions of closing the achievement gaps often overlook AAPI students because most people believe these students always do well in school. But a groundbreaking report from NEA debunks the stereotype that all AAPI students are succeeding in schools and offers disturbing data on the widespread underachievement of some groups

The NEA News Room opens in the Los Angeles Convention Center, Room 152, 9 a.m. A filing center for credentialed news media will include telephones, fax machines, modems and a television monitor from which the media can view the action on the floor of the Representative Assembly. Seating will also be provided near the stage for media who want to cover the Assembly "up close and personal."

The International Forum. Education leaders from across the globe will share an overview of educational trends and issues in their respective countries and will learn more about American education topics like school accountability and student assessment.
The grand opening and ribbon-cutting of the Great Public Schools Booth, where thousands of delegates will come to get information and resources on NEA's six-point plan for creating great public schools for every child.

NEA's Read Across America "Red Carpet Read-In."  Hundreds of Los Angeles schoolchildren will join NEA delegates at an event designed to get kids excited about the joys of reading. At 9:30 a.m., NEA President Reg Weaver and his army of readers will officially kick off the event.

Symposium on Critical Issues in Education. Educators from across the nation and top scholars will strategize on tactics for improving public education, which include bringing professionalism to educator pay, reaching out to parents in underserved minority communities, closing the student achievement gaps and bringing school technology into the 21st century.

NEA hosts its 39th Annual Human and Civil Rights Awards Dinner, where 11 individuals and groups will be honored for promoting social justice and dignity in their local communities. This year's dinner will pay homage to a parent who fought segregation in Little Rock, an activist intent on preserving a near-extinct culture and other notable individuals.

The NEA Representative Assembly will take place July 3-6. All of the following events will be held at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Media Availability with NEA President Reg Weaver. Weaver will preview the 2005 RA -- what's hot and what's happening -- including the launch of NEA's plan to create "Great Public Schools for Every Child."

President Weaver will deliver his keynote address during the morning session.

2005 Education Support Professional of the Year Kathleen Lange, a health care assistant from Elk Grove Village, Illinois, will address the delegates. Lange earned NEA's highest honor for professionals in the field of education support for her leadership in the area of student health and her ingenuity in finding new ways to analyze student health data.

The International Address will be delivered by Thulas Nxesi, president of Education International (EI) and the general secretary of the South African Democratic Teachers' Union (SADTU).

The 2005 National Teacher of the Year, Jason Kamras, will address the delegates. Kamras, a math teacher at John Philip Sousa Middle School in Washington, D.C., has made improving educational opportunities for economically disadvantaged students his national platform.

The 2005 Friend of Education Award will be presented to educator and historian Cheryl Brown Henderson, whose family was the lead plaintiff in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, the landmark case that led to the desegregation of public schools. The award recognizes individuals whose leadership, acts, and support have raised the level of excellence in American public education.

Further information about NEA's Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly can be found at NEA's Web site.