By Shane Parmely, CTA State Council Delegate
With just twenty write-in votes for my impromptu last-minute campaign, I was able to attend the National Education Association Representative Assembly (NEA RA) in Atlanta, Georgia during Fourth of July week this summer. I decided that roadtripping to Atlanta would be an excellent educational opportunity, so I threw my three kids into the Prius and off we went. It was an extremely educational and eye opening experience.
The week began with the new delegate orientation and the first session of the California Caucus, which met twice Monday (and then every morning before the RA) to discuss, debate, and vote on the New Business Items (NBIs) that would be brought to the NEA floor for a vote. We could either recommend voting Yes, No, or Your Choice. Later, when these NBIs were “moved” and being debated during the NEA RA, CTA would walk around our section of the RA floor with huge signs reminding everyone how our caucus had decided to vote. However, each individual rep can vote whichever way he or she pleases. Yay democracy!
The NEA Representative Assembly (RA) is the largest sitting democratic body in the world. IN. THE. WORLD. Listening to educators from all over the country thoughtfully debate issues was very stimulating. There were several NBIs that I went back and forth on how I was going to vote because both sides made such compelling arguments. There were times when I voted with my friends and colleagues sitting around me, and there were times when we voted opposite from each other. And it was okay and we were still friends afterwards. Again, yay democracy!
Over the course of the week I met intelligent and passionate educators from all over our state. Several of them encouraged me to join them at the CTA Summer Institute held at UCLA. I took them up on it — read about it HERE.
The RA takes place over Fourth of July week every year, and next year it will be held in Denver. My kids loved loved LOVED the NEA Camp for the children of NEA reps. (We are already planning our roadtrip for next year!) It was only $10 a day per child, the age groups are separated, the staff was amazing, and the planned activities are differentiated and age-appropriate. SDEA reps receive a $1,300 stipend to help offset the costs of attending the NEA RA and will receive a 1099 during tax season. (So if you are elected to go next year, plan on saving those receipts!) Here was the schedule for the week. And here are the CTA pictures from the RA. SDEA took pictures too, so keep an eye out for those.
Strong organizing around good wages and working conditions and engaging members to flex their collective muscles to make this happen have been top priorities for everyone I’ve spoken with. If you’re even a little bit interested in what I’m describing, give serious thought to running next year. If this year is an indicator, it takes just a handful of votes to be able to participate in the planet’s largest democratic decision-making body.