Monday, July 13, 2009

Virginia Delegates Attend the 2009 National Education Association

Over two hundred Virginia delegates from all over the Commonwealth of Virginia attended the 2009 NEA Representative Assembly in San Diego, California from June 30-July 7. We joined almost 10,000 other delegates from all over the country for the purpose of conducting association business. We had about half of our delegates who were attending their first ever NEA Convention, and from all accounts, they had a great time, learned a lot, and have returned home eager and energized, ready to promote the good work of the NEA and the VEA.

This was a special RA for a variety of reasons. It was the first for Dennis Van Roekel as president of the NEA. It was the last for Bob Chanin who has served as the general counsel to the NEA for 40 years and he is retiring at the end of this year. It was also my first NEA RA as the VEA President, and it was held in one of the greatest cities in the country.

We accomplished much during the activity packed week starting with a special town hall meeting with Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. Virginia was honored to have one of our own serve on the panel who asked the Secretary questions about the reauthorization of ESEA (otherwise known as No Child Left Behind). Frank Cardella, the new president of the Chesterfield Education Association and Chair of the NEA National Board Certified Teachers Caucus was invited to serve as one of eight panelists. We also had Sarah Patton, NBCT from Covington and NEA Director on stage representing Virginia, and in addition, Jim Livingston of Prince William was allowed to ask a question of Secretary Duncan.

In addition to having an opportunity to interact with Secretary Duncan, Virginia was honored to host three international guests including former NEA and VEA president, Mary Hatwood Futurell who was one of the founders of Education International. Additionally, we hosted the General Secretary of EI, Fred Van Leeuwen of Brussels and Bob Harris of Australia.

Each morning, our Virginia delegates met to discuss the business of the day. Then we spent long days in the San Diego Convention Center going over more than 80 new business items, a number of Legislative Amendments, and a host of Bylaw Amendments.

In short, it was a great convention. Our new delegates were inspired by what they learned about the NEA, and they were given the charge of going home and sharing with their friends, family and colleagues what they had learned about the work that we do for our profession and for the children we teach.

For pictures of the convention, see the link on Flickr at

Until next time.