NEA members to address issues at Representative Assembly

More than 9,000 NEA members from every state in the Union will gather in Washington, D.C., for the National Education Association's annual Representative Assembly. Delegates will find they have a full agenda as they make decisions that will guide the Association for the coming year and beyond.

One major change that will result from actions taken at the 2008 NEA Representative Assembly will be the election of new NEA officers. NEA President Reg Weaver has served six years as NEA's top elected leader but is term-limited by the Association's constitution.

NEA delegates will be asked to confirm the election of current NEA Vice President Dennis Van Roekel to serve as NEA president, and current Secretary-Treasurer Lily Eskelsen to serve as Vice President. Both will be confirmed by acclimation since no other candidates filed to run before the April 15 nomination deadline. There will be a contested election to select a new secretary-treasurer for NEA.

NEA presidential politics won't be the only election story coming out of the NEA Representative Assembly. Delegates are expected to make a formal recommendation in the U.S. presidential contest.

Delegates will also be asked to decide if the National Education Association will begin organizing teachers and other staff who work with preschool children.

Another important agenda item will be the presentation and discussion of a special NEA "White Paper" outlining the Association's best thinking about the proper and most effective role for the federal government to play in support of the nation's 14,000 local school districts.

The NEA Representative Assembly also includes time to celebrate and honor education role models from around the county. Among those to be honored will be Barbara Morgan. Morgan is an elementary schoolteacher from McCall, Idaho, who became the first teacher to fly a NASA space shuttle mission as part of the federal agency's "Teacher in Space" program. Morgan will be honored as NEA's 2008 Friend of Education.

Presentations to delegates will also be made by national Teacher of the Year Michael Geisen, a middle school science teacher from Prineville, Ore., and Education Support Professional of the Year Laura Vernon, a school security officer from Milwaukee, Wis.

NEA will also be presenting special awards to honor two of the nation's leading pro-public education governors -- Gov. Mike Easley of N.C. and Gov. Bill Richardson of N.M.

Several forums will be held in conjunction with the NEA Representative Assembly. Hundreds of Association members will gather for the NEA Minority Community Outreach Forum. The annual Joint Conference on the Concerns of Minorities and Women will focus on educational challenges created by race, ethnic, and gender issues. An Association-sponsored Global Education Summit will focus on preparing students for the global environment and raising students' international knowledge and competencies.

Outreach to Teach

Delegates to the NEA Representative Assembly always take at least a few hours to give back to the host city by participating in several community outreach programs. Among the most popular is the annual NEA Outreach to Teach activity.

Several hundred NEA members will descend on Wakefield High School in Arlington, Va., to paint, improve landscaping, create bulletin boards, and dozens of other tasks to improve the school's facilities. Outreach to Teach is sponsored by the NEA Student Program, the Association's program for college students studying to become classroom teachers. Joining the students at Outreach to Teach will be retired educators and education support professionals.

The more than 9,000 voting delegates to the NEA's annual Representative Assembly represent the world's largest deliberative body.

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--NEA media release