Saturday, March 7, 2009

VEA Celebrations

The Virginia Education Association members whom I represent have much to celebrate this week along with the beautiful weather which is prevailing this weekend. First, we got planning time for elementary teachers passed in the 2009 General Assembly session! This was no small feat, and it is a goal that we at the VEA have been working toward for at least 36 years!

Another big legislative win was the passage of a fairer grievance procedure for our Extra Support Professional (ESP) members; and a third major victory was the inclusion of enough funds in the budget to make whole the funding needed to make sure that all of the eligible national board certified teachers in Virginia get the full amount of the incentive funds that they had been promised.

It was quite a session to say the least. Many thanks go all around to our Government Relations staff, our UniServ Directors who do double duty as lobbyists during the session, and our local presidents and Board members along with our members at the grassroots level who took action and wrote and called their legislators when we needed them to. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You proved that collective action does make a difference.

The week wound up with my attendance at not one but two major education conferences. The first was a day-long summit held by the Learning First Alliance. For more information about the Learning First Alliance, click on the link and peruse to your heart’s content. ( The second, much larger conference was sponsored in large part by New York’s public broadcasting station (PBS) Thirteen WLIW21 along with corporate funding from Chase Bank and a number of other groups including the National Education Association and the New York State United Teachers. More than 8,000 teachers, administrators, and educators attended the two-day event which was the fourth annual celebration of its kind. Nationally renowned speakers and authors attended, and the level of conversation around the kinds of changes that we must undertake in this rapidly changing global environment with regard to public education were both invigorating and inspiring.

Many of the sessions were focused on the changing world and our need to change the way we school youngsters in a very fundamental way. The tide of opinion regarding education reform is changing fundamentally in this era of rapid change, and there is a definite sense that educators are tired of being left out making important policy decisions. Indeed, from what I heard, they are more than ready to take their power back--at long last. I believe that it is truly an awesome time to be an educator in this country.